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Gasol, Mirotic show what Bulls got by losing Boozer

More boos than ‘‘Booze’’ could be heard Thursday at the United Center as fans expressed their disdain for Carlos Boozer.

The former Bulls forward, now a reserve with the Los Angeles Lakers, visited on Christmas Day for the first time since the Bulls used the amnesty provision on him in July.

But the game — a 113-93 Bulls win — was less about the often-criticized Boozer and more a showcase of the new arrivals — Pau Gasol and Nikola Mirotic — the Bulls signed after ridding themselves of Boozer’s horrendous contract.

Gasol, who left the Lakers to join the Bulls, led them with 23 points and 13 rebounds Thursday. Mirotic, whose 2011 draft rights were exercised last summer in a buyout from Real Madrid, added 13 points.

The past and present playing across from each other for the first time was evidence as to how much better the Bulls have become.

‘‘I came here with really a positive mindset, just ready to do whatever it took, and worked my butt off,” Gasol said. ‘‘My game complements our style of play really well and keeps me, for the most part, in positions where I’m very effective.’’

Gasol, Mirotic and Taj Gibson have given the Bulls a clear upgrade at power forward. Boozer was maligned for his defense after the Bulls signed him in 2010 and was little more than a jump shooter as he disappointed offensively.

Mirotic and Gasol have flashed an offensive repertoire Boozer never brought. Gasol has superior moves around the rim and more reliable jump shooting, while Mirotic has the ability to put the ball on the floor and beat slower four-men off the dribble.

Boozer was exploited by the latter in the second quarter. The Bulls led by three after one quarter, but by halftime they led 58-47 after getting 10 points as a result of poor defense from Boozer during a stretch of 5:05. In one instance, Mirotic head-faked Boozer and blew right past him. Gibson scored on an easy dunk after Mirotic made a simple bounce pass.

Gibson, a reserve who split time with Boozer last year but finished games, scored nine points and grabbed seven rebounds. Boozer was at least efficient offensively, scoring 14 points and grabbing five rebounds. Wesley Johnson led the Lakers with 19 points and nine rebounds while Kobe Bryant got the night off to rest.

Jimmy Butler scored 21 and Derrick Rose 20 for the Bulls, whose bench was outstanding, accounting for 39 points.

‘‘There’s a lot of different characters on this team, a lot of stubborn characters on this team, and I think it’s a good thing, but it’s also a bad thing,’’ center Joakim Noah said. ‘‘So we all have to come together, find ways to improve, and I think that we can.’’


Twitter: @SethGruen