CHICAGO -- Carlos Boozer made his Bulls debut Dec. 1 against the Magic in a seemingly memorable event, particularly because it came after he had missed 15 games following hand surgery.
"I don't remember that one," Boozer said. "Short memory."
Then Boozer winked. He also could have winced.
The Magic destroyed the Bulls, 107-78, that night, handing them their worst loss this season and outrebounding them 44-21. Boozer managed just five points and two rebounds in 21 minutes, 34 seconds.
"Yeah, I remember we got blown out," Boozer said. "They kicked our butts on the boards. They were more aggressive than us. They were more focused than us. We haven't forgotten that."
Add to that dominance a 105-67 Magic throttling in an Oct. 16 exhibition in Orlando and the Bulls have been pointing to Friday's rematch for some time, even though the Magic underwent a dramatic overhaul with two major mid-December trades.
"I never dismiss those games," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "We have to do a lot better. They dominated us on the boards, basically got whatever they wanted. They put a lot of pressure on you because of their shooting and (Dwight) Howard's ability to roll to the basket.
"Jameer Nelson is one of those guys who never gets enough credit. He's a fierce competitor. He makes that team go. Put Jameer and Howard in the pick-and-roll and that opens things up for them."
So does bountiful perimeter threats, which the Magic added on that Dec. 18 trading day. What the Magic shipped out in size to the Suns and Wizards, they added in shooting with Jason Richardson, Gilbert Arenas and Hedo Turkoglu. The Magic took a 13-7 record into Wednesday's matchup with the Pacers since their two big trades.
"It opened up their offense again," Thibodeau said. "Getting Turkoglu back is huge for them, gives them another playmaker. He's a hard matchup because of his size and playmaking ability.
"Richardson is an explosive player. Arenas is very talented. He hasn't been healthy. But that's a scary team. Howard is a dominant center who controls the paint and (blocks shots). Offensively, he has gotten a lot better."
So, too, have the Bulls, even without Joakim Noah. They have a slightly better record (31-14 to 30-16) than the Magic. Derrick Rose is expected to play despite missing Wednesday's practice with the flu and battling a sore back.
"I'm very excited to play them," Boozer said. "They're a very good team. We like to think of ourselves as a very good team."
Sounds like he might remember it this time.