Bulls' Alex Caruso sinks career-high 7 3-pointers

Bulls' Alex Caruso sinks career-high 7 3-pointers originally appeared on NBC Sports Chicago

Presented by Nationwide Insurance Agent Jeff Vukovich

MINNEAPOLIS --- Alex Caruso finished Sunday’s victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves with a bloody hand and in Torrey Craig’s sneakers because he blew out his own.

“He's definitely one of a kind,” DeMar DeRozan said.

It’s hard to make a bigger impact than the one Caruso made on the Chicago Bulls’ impressive road triumph over the Western Conference-leading Timberwolves. Not only did he make his first six 3-pointers en route to a career-high seven and score 21 points, he posted five steals while chasing Anthony Edwards around all game.

In typical Caruso fashion, he deflected individual praise.

“I didn’t do it by myself,” he said. “Vooch (Nikola Vucevic) did a great job being up in coverage helping me so I could get back whenever their bigs set screens. And they were setting some good screens. There were multiple times where I was late and they held the ball under control for me to be able to get back. And then just pursuit. (Edwards) made a couple lazy passes and I was able to get deflections. We were playing for each other defensively.”

Caruso also didn’t take full credit for the 3-point barrage, light-heartedly saying the DJ used pregame to fire up the Target Center crowd played “some bangers.”

“I was kind of vibing off that,” Caruso said. “The first couple went in and the ball just kept finding me. I just had open catch-and-shoots.”

As for the blown-out shoe, coach Billy Donovan said he’d never seen it before. Caruso compared it to the time Zion Williamson did so while still playing for Duke.

“I was trailing Ant and I jumped up to try to contest. And I landed on my left foot. My insoles and the plate that is in there just slid out of the bottom. It was Zion-like from Duke,” Caruso said. “I could just feel the back half of my foot wasn’t on. It was just on the bottom of my shoe.”

Caruso added about the Kobe Bryant model “Kobe 4s Fade to Black” shoes: “They were good-luck shoes so now I have to retire them.”

Caruso is now shooting 40.8 percent on a career-high volume of 4.7 attempts from 3-point range.

“It’s just staying true to the work,” he said. “Over the year, my percentage dropped a little because I was a little banged up and I didn’t have time to get in the gym and work on my game as much as I would like. So the comfort level wasn’t as nice. But coming out of the All-Star break, I’ve stayed aggressive and trusted it.”

Caruso joked that he likely hit seven 3-pointers in high school because he “didn’t have a lot of self-control.” But his performance at both ends left his teammates and coaches in appreciation.

“He was unbelievable,” Donovan said. “We talked about: Can we defend Edwards without fouling him? If Alex was in any level of jeopardy, we had good verticality at the rim and some help there. But him getting over pick-and-rolls, handling post-ups, handling him in the midrange, moving his feet. He did such a good job he blew his sneaker out. I’ve never seen it before. He tore the whole heel off his shoe. He was amazing.”

Added DeMar DeRozan: “For a guy who has been banged up throughout the year, every time he steps on the court, he lets it all out there. He put his heart and soul into the game. It’s amazing to have a teammate like that. For him to do what he did on both ends is just a sign of his greatness.”

DeRozan said Caruso rivals Kyle Lowry for the highest IQ teammate with which he has played.

“He’s too smart of a basketball player to be overlooked. He knows how to play the game at a high level,” DeRozan said. “Not just defensively---obviously that part of it stands out---but he’s one of the smartest players I’ve ever played with. His IQ to the game is amazing. When you got someone that smart, they know where to be offensively to know how to make things easier on everybody else.”