When the Los Angeles Lakers were down 20 points against the Milwaukee Bucks, one could’ve been forgiven for thinking they had thrown in the towel. Head coach Luke Walton turned to a lineup that featured the likes of Alex Caruso and Ivica Zubac, who had spent more time in the G League with the South Bay Lakers than in the NBA this season.
Instead, that group spurred a 29-9 run that brought the Lakers all the way back to force overtime, where they ultimately fell to the Bucks.
“It always feels good to play in the fourth. As a basketball player you always want to finish the game, you always want to be on the court when it counts. It felt great. I tried to help the team the most I could,” Zubac said.
He finished with 16 points, his second-highest scoring total of the season, and credited Caruso for helping him have so much success.
“I’ve played a lot of games with AC. Summer League, G League, sometimes here in NBA. We’ve got chemistry, he knows what I do, I know what he does. It’s easy to play with him,” Zubac said.
For Caruso, who finished with six points and six assists, getting the chance to fuel Zubac’s success was just a matter of making up for lost time.
“He’s always hammering me about easy buckets and I told him I was going to (get them for him), but I hadn’t these last couple of games. I’m glad I fulfilled my promise,” Caruso said.
And helping the chemistry between the two was not just their familiarity playing together on the court, but how close they have grown over the last year off of it. “Me and Zu are good friends.
“We mess with each other about soccer and other stuff, so we have a good relationship outside of basketball. I feel like that makes it easy to play on the court,” Caruso said.
The Lakers were the beneficiaries of that chemistry Friday night, and while it didn’t ultimately result in a win, Zubac felt that there were circumstances that were beyond their control.
“We didn’t have a lot of guys, BI didn’t finish in the overtime, KCP got ejected, so it was tough. The guys were tired. We didn’t make shots, we didn’t get stops. They won the game,” he said.
But Zubac and Caruso made it a lot harder on the Bucks to do so, and for a couple of players that spent most of the year in the G League, that’s all the Lakers can reasonably ask of them.