Seeing an uptick in minutes with Avery Bradley out of the rotation, Alex Caruso came through with some big plays down the stretch to help the Lakers overcome a 19 point deficit to the Chicago Bulls. Despite only finishing with seven points on 2-8 shooting, Caruso played excellent defense as the Lakers came up with big stop after big stop in the fourth quarter.
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Lakers’ Alex Caruso Weighs in on LeBron James’ Aggressive Chest Bumps
The Lakers were up one with 6:36 left in the fourth quarter when Caruso swiped the ball from Bulls point guard Tomas Satoransky and took it coast to coast, finishing at the rim for an and-one. Caruso’s bucket was a massive momentum shifter in the game as the Lakers would go on to not relinquish the lead for the remainder of the game.
Caruso’s and-one drew an electric response from Lakers’ superstar LeBron James. James emphatically came over to chest bump Caruso, sending the smaller player bouncing off James’ 6’8″, 250-pound frame. Caruso would go on to talk about James and his chest bumps post-game, explaining that the King might need to be a bit more aware of just who he’s throwing his body into. Standing “only” 6’5″ and weighing just 186 pounds, the size differential between Caruso and the King is massive.
LeBron James Leads the Way Over Bulls With Triple-Double
While the rest of the Lakers were asleep at the wheel for the better part of three quarters, LeBron showed up to play from the opening whistle. Picking up his third triple-double in a row, James was forced to shoulder a bit more of a scoring load compared to in previous games. Particularly in the first half, James was the only thing going for the Lakers and was the lone player in double digits going into the break. At one point in the second quarter, James went on an 8-0 run by himself that helped keep things from getting even worse than the 17 point halftime hole the Lakers were left staring up at.
Kuzma and Howard deserve a ton of credit for their strong play to help kickstart the Lakers’ fourth-quarter heroics, however, James’ consistent pressure on offense was undoubtedly the deciding factor in the game. That said, his efforts on defense shouldn’t go unnoticed. Finishing with a steal and two blocks, James looks to be far more locked in defensively this season compared to year’s past.
More than just piling up defensive box score statistics, James has played a crucial role in the improved team defense of the Lakers. While Davis and new additions Avery Bradley and Dwight Howard may deserve more of the credit for the turnaround on that end, James has undoubtedly played his role well and Frank Vogel’s scheme seems to be an excellent fit for his skill set. Though it is still early, James’ 95 DRTG is the best of his career, eclipsing his career-best 97, posted during the 2011-12 season with the Miami Heat.