Caruso got the takeaway that led to the game-winning three-pointer in overtime which he hit.
“We were down double digits,” Caruso said via the team after the win. “Just talked to each other. Six minutes left, we had a lot of time. Just try to keep making plays. The game’s not over till it’s over.”
He finished with a game-high plus-29 net rating. He had 13 points, corralled a career-high 13 rebounds, and had two assists, two steals, one block, and zero turnovers in more than 31 minutes on the floor. Afterward, DeMar DeRozan broke out one of his trademark analogies to describe his All-Defensive-caliber teammate.
“Amazing,” DeRozan said, per Sam Smith of NBA.com on October 27. “He … bailed us out; he made some great plays, steals, backcourt, offensive rebounds. … It’s kind of like letting a cheetah out of the cage and just running wild when he’s out there. He makes it look pretty.”
“The effort he played with shows why he is who he is,” DeRozan said. “It’s amazing the effort that he puts in, the sacrifice he makes throwing his body around, his IQ defensively, his instincts. It’s amazing to watch.”
Bulls’ Alex Caruso Has ‘Innate’ Ability
“It might just be an innate thing that I have this ability to kind of see when stuff is going on,” Caruso said, per Smith. “Usually when there’s chaos like that, stuff is predictable. You can foreshadow what’s going to happen or what guys are trying to do. A lot of that is me anticipating and using that information that might be correct, might not.”
Caruso was 1-for-3 in the fourth quarter and overtime leading up to his heroics with all of his looks coming from three-point range.
But, as Zach LaVine drove the lane, he found Caruso in the corner, and the latter didn’t hesitate.
“Alex is incredible,” LaVine said, per NBC Sports Chicago’s K.C. Johnson. “He shows up when he’s not scoring. He shows up when he is scoring. A guy that you just love on your team.”
“At that point in the game you’ve got to make plays,” Caruso said, per Smith. “I try to put myself in position to do that. It’s winning time; winning time is the last three, four, five minutes in the game when the plays are most crucial. For me, late in games it’s focusing in on opportunities to steal possessions and create chaos a little bit.”
DeRozan scored 22 of his game-high 33 points in the fourth quarter and overtime, going 6-for-10 from the floor and 10-of-13 at the free-throw line. The six-time All-Star had gotten to the charity stripe for just one attempt through three quarters.
Zach LaVine’s Shooting Woes Continue
It was LaVine who needed to be uplifted following another dismal shooting performance to begin the season. He finished with eight points on 3-of-14 shooting including going 0-for-6 from beyond the arc.
He had five rebounds and one block. But he committed three fouls and dished out just one assist on the night.
Fortunately for him, it was the biggest assist of the game.
“Zach made a great read,” Caruso said. He had the trust in me, hit me and I did what I’m supposed to do. Get to the corner and shot went in. … I just tried to focus on going through the routine of how I shoot it and doing it in rhythm. Once it left my hand, I was pretty confident it was going in.”
LaVine is averaging 14.0 points, 4.0 rebounds, and 3.0 assists while shooting 25% from the floor and 22.% from deep through two games this season. He averaged 24.8/4.5/4.2 on .485/.375 splits last season.
“Obviously I gotta get things clicking,” LaVine said, per Johnson.
LaVine started last season slowly as well. But he was recovering from offseason knee surgery then. He was healthy this offseason and preseason though.
His next chance to right the ship arrives quickly with the Bulls visiting the Detroit Pistons on October 28. LaVine is listed as “probable” for that contest with “low back spasms,” according to Johnson.