Perhaps the biggest bright spot for the Los Angeles Lakers in recent weeks has been the play of Alex Caruso, who has been a two-way player with them the last two seasons.
Caruso has gotten a real opportunity to play the last 17 games and has made the most of it, averaging 12.4 points (45.% from the field), 3.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists.
He had another strong game in the 113-109 win over the Utah Jazz, scoring 18 points and dishing out a career-high 11 assists. He did miss some layups and shots around the basket, which is expected when playing against one of the premier rim protectors in Rudy Gobert.
The Lakers made their comeback in the fourth quarter, and Caruso played an instrumental part in that. There was one play that sat with him after the game and that was a shot he didn’t make.
Knowing how difficult it is to make a layup over Gobert, Caruso drove the lane in the fourth quarter and attempted to posterize the reigning Defensive Player of the Year.
Caruso missed the dunk, but the Staples Center crowd still went crazy for what he almost did. After the game, he discussed what was going through his mind at that time.
“Tonight, I played a lot of minutes, so I was a little tired. I was missing a bunch of easy layups that I normally would make, so I tried not to get frustrated through the game and just went next play,” Caruso explained.
“Eventually, the lane cleared up and with a guy like that, you can’t shoot a layup. If you shoot a floater or a layup, it going to be at like 13 feet. I just tried to attack the rim. Really close, really close. I would have liked to have made both free throws.”
Caruso’s recent play looks like it may earn him an NBA contract with either the Lakers or another team next season. He can become a restricted free agent this summer, so the Lakers will have the opportunity to bring him back if they want.