Alex Caruso is never going to apologize for the amount of work he puts into his short game in the offseason.
Considering he’s one of the best golfers on the Bulls, it shows.
The work he put into his “long game’’ on the basketball court is also showing these days.
Caruso entered Saturday’s showdown with the Heat in the starting lineup and also came in as the team’s most accurate three-point shooter at 50%.
Is that number headed for a market correction? Likely, considering Caruso was a career 37.2% shooter from three and never used the shot as a go-to move. But that doesn’t mean he won’t stay effective from long range this season, especially with all the attention Zach LaVine, DeMar DeRozan and Nikola Vucevic get from opposing defenses.
But Caruso’s secret sauce for his improved outside shooting was interesting.
“This is probably the most unattached to results that I’ve been in my life basketball-wise as far as shots going in or out,’’ Caruso said. “And that’s probably why I’m making most of them. There’s a part of me that doesn’t care. If I’m open, I shoot it. I’m playing basketball, competing to win. If it’s the right shot, take it. Trust the work. I worked really hard this summer and this preseason and during the season. There’s no reason not to shoot them.’’
It doesn’t hurt that he also has teammates who believe in his outside shot and his ability to hit in the clutch.
“They trust me, and when they see me open, they do a good job of hitting me on target,’’ Caruso said. “And then it’s just trusting the work.’’
His coach sure does.
Billy Donovan appreciates the work Caruso has put in on his long-range shooting, but he loves all the skills and intangibles he brings every game. That’s why Donovan finally disregarded the minutes worries with Caruso and started him.
Considering Caruso entered the Heat game a plus-32 and the next closest teammate was Andre Drummond at plus-5, Donovan had good reason.
“[Caruso is] very smart and bright, and he knows how to play the game,’’ Donovan said. “But anytime he’s out on the court for us, we’ve had a lot of positive results from that.’’
Now it will come down to Donovan figuring out how to keep Caruso a starter and keep his minutes in that 24-26 territory each game.
Against the Magic on Friday, he played about six minutes in his first stint, then sat almost 12 minutes so he could finish the second quarter and get some momentum going into the locker room. Against the Heat, Donovan was forced to bring him back in the first quarter after a quick breather because the Bulls were in such a hole to start the game.
Admittedly, that will be the puzzle Donovan needs to figure out.
Welcome back, Carter
Donovan has been trying to find consistent minutes for guard Jevon Carter, as well as what grouping to use him with.
Carter played only 10 minutes in the loss to the Magic on Friday, but Donovan said it was more circumstance than a trend.
“For me, the last two games in particular, you’re just trying to find different combinations to get some rhythm, some energy,’’ Donovan said of Carter.
Former Bulls great Dennis Rodman was introduced at the United Center in what was a rare appearance for the five-time NBA champion.
Rodman won three titles with the Bulls and retired from the NBA in 2000.