MIAMI -- In the morning, his ghastly Game 2 trailed off into the distance with an opportunity for a measure of redemption in Game 3 at hand. His kids dutifully attended church before taking in a baseball game and scampering about South Florida for the day. And Carlos Boozer beamed at his locker stall.
"You wake up this morning, outside it's almost 90 (degrees) and it's not even 11 o'clock yet," Boozer said before the Bulls' shootaround. "Just feels great. A fountain of youth for everybody."
This was fitting for a guy whose postseason act was getting old in some corners, and one of the few positives to extract from the Bulls' 96-85 swoon against the Heat was Boozer at last showing some consistent lift as he tried to boost his club.
The Bulls forward scored 26 points -- all across the final three quarters -- and added 17 rebounds at AmericanAirlines Arena. Essentially, he helped keep matters interesting for longer than the Bulls' play in general dictated.
"I just played off my teammates, really," Boozer said. "Let them do their thing and tried to find open areas and be aggressive when I got it."
He had entered the game as an $80 million man averaging just 11.6 points and 9.3 rebounds in the 2011 playoffs, scoring 20 points only once in the postseason. Most notable was that dreary Game 2 effort: Just seven points on 3-of-10 shooting and a fourth-quarter benching.
Very little had changed by the end of the first quarter Sunday, with Boozer starting 0-for-5. But he rattled off nine second-quarter points, including eight in a row after the Heat had jumped to a six-point lead, his production keeping the Bulls tethered close.
"I thought I was getting shots that I liked," Boozer said. "So I just kept getting to the spots I wanted to get to."
He kept getting there, the only thing the Bulls had that marginally answered the Heat's Chris Bosh and his 34-point explosion, even sailing in for a tomahawk jam in the third quarter.
But Boozer had more moments of imperfection late -- failing to convert a three-point play just before the Heat embarked on a 9-0 run to seal it in the fourth quarter, and getting two shots blocked in the waning minutes.
It wasn't ideal. But it was much better than the near-nothing Boozer provided one game earlier.
"Carlos played well for us, he scored some big baskets," Luol Deng said. "He got going and he kept us in the game."