‘The Caruso Effect’: Bulls Accomplish Rare Feats in Guard’s Return

Alex Caruso

Getty Alex Caruso returned to the Chicago Bulls lineup against the Cleveland Cavaliers.

It only took seven weeks, but Alex Caruso finally made his return to the floor against the Cleveland Cavaliers, and immediately contributed towards a Chicago Bulls win.

He returned to the floor on Saturday night 50 days after suffering a right wrist fracture in a controversial collision with Milwaukee Bucks guard Grayson Allen, scored 11 points, and grabbed four steals.

As NBC Sports’ K.C. Johnson noted postgame, his impact was felt all over the floor, but especially on the defensive end:

The 2020 NBA champ fired off a message of his own after the win:

The Chicago Bulls are now 20-9 on the season when Alex Caruso suits up, and have one of the best defensive ratings in the entire NBA when he’s available.

His return was certainly an addition that will inspire confidence for the team moving forward.

Dosunmu: ‘He Had a Major Impact’

After the game, Alex Caruso and a number of the other Chicago Bulls’ representation spoke about what it means for the team to have the guard back on the hardwood.

Rookie guard Ayo Dosunmu was effusive (via 670 The Score) in his praise for the guard:

He had a major impact, just having another competitor out there, another guy who’s willing to do the little things, another leader…All of those things helped. He impacted everybody tonight.

Fans can’t be upset at the source here, given that Caruso’s injury is what paved the way for the rookie’s recent emergence.

Dosunmu averaged 10.8 points, 6.0 assists, and 1.2 steals over the 21 games his teammate was down with injury.

But on Saturday night they were both able to contribute, combining for 28 points off the bench in the victory:

He makes it easier for a lot of us, especially me. Sometimes when we’re in pick-and-rolls, we’re comfortable enough to call the switch out. Like I said, he’s a veteran. He has won. He has played in those high-level games. When you that, that boosts the morale defensively, it gives energy and helps the team overall.

And per Caruso himself, everything went according to plan in his long-awaited return:

It felt great. I’m excited to just play basketball again. I caught myself just walking onto the court for pregame warmup just kind of smiling, just excited to be out there. When the game started, I was standing up for random plays that probably didn’t need to be cheered for. I was just excited to be back playing basketball.

The vibes were high for the Chicago Bulls following this win, their second-straight with 15 games remaining.

But there’s still reason to preempt optimism with caution moving forward.

LaVine Misses a Game, Ball Remains Out

As nice as it was to see Alex Caruso back in a Chicago Bulls uniform and not his casual sideline outfit, other injuries still plague the roster.

Zach LaVine missed Saturday’s game with discomfort in his left knee, the same one that sidelined him for the last three games prior to the All-Star break.

Head coach Billy Donovan’s pregame update (via NBC Sports) didn’t exactly incite optimism that this injury is going away anytime soon, either:

When he (LaVine) feels good, he wants to play. He wants to play all the time. But I think that he had some discomfort there, wasn’t feeling great…And I think the decision was made by Zach and the medical staff that it’s better just to take tonight off and just see where he’s at come tomorrow and going into Sacramento (on Monday).

On top of that, starting point guard Lonzo Ball remains out, six weeks removed from the knee surgery that was given a six to eight weeks timeline for recovery.

So, as the Chicago Bulls get a boost in Alex Caruso’s return, they remain half-whole without Lonzo Ball and Zach LaVine.

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