It’s a bird, it’s a plane — nope, it’s just Los Angeles Lakers guard Alex Caruso cruising through the air for another monster dunk.
Caruso has become a fan-favorite in Los Angeles for his high-flying antics, even being dubbed the “Bald Mamba.” His panted thinning hair might make him unassuming, but Caruso knows how to pounce on put-back jams with the best of them.
His latest rim-rattler came in the Lakers’ 105-96 victory against the Denver Nuggets, getting way up and putting back a Danny Green miss over teammate Dwight Howard.
Lakers’ Alex Caruso on Dunks: It’s Just What I do
Caruso had some interesting comments after the game about his sneaky athleticism that has landed him on NBA highlight reels.
“I think a lot of it is just good fortune, the bounces. I put myself in a good position,” Caruso told reporters. “I saw Dwight was wrestling with whoever it was underneath and there was just a clear lane for me. As the ball is going to the rim, I’m tracking it. … I saw it was probably going to land off the front and bounce right back to me, so I just went for it and it worked.”
So, is Caruso surprised when he finds himself above the rim?
“For me it’s just another play,” Caruso told reporters. “I’ve been doing this at the park, college, AAU. It’s kind of just what I do.”
Alex Caruso Making Impact Known on Defense for Lakers
Caruso played just 16 minutes off the bench against the Nuggets, but he managed to foul out. That being said, Caruso tied Anthony Davis for a team-high plus-11 rating. He had six points, four rebounds, one steal and one block.
Caruso approaches around 20 minutes per night off the bench and is averaging 5.1 points, 1.9 rebounds, 1.9 assists and 1.1 steals. His defense has been what leaves his coach Frank Vogel raving, providing a big spark off the bench.
“I think he’s elite,” Vogel said earlier this week. “When you study him on tape or just watch him in summer workouts, you see he has pretty good feet and good length. But there are a lot of 6-foot-5 defenders that you think you should be great defenders, but they’re not good defenders — but Alex is. He has great instincts and that’s the biggest thing with him.
“It’s not always just about physical ability: It’s about IQ, it’s about activity, hands, containment ability, willingness to take charges, the ability to mix it up and get on the boards and rebound the basketball. He does all those things at a very high level.”
The Lakers continue their road trip against the Utah Jazz on Wednesday. Los Angeles has the best record in the Western Conference at 18-3, but 14 of their 19 games thus far were against teams that currently have losing records. This month, 10 of their 14 games will come against teams that enter the month with a winning record.
The Lakers are 2.5-point underdogs agains the 12-9 Jazz on the back-to-back. Utah has lost two in a row.