DeMar DeRozan on Alex Caruso’s defense vs. Raptors: ‘It’s kind of like letting a cheetah out of the cage’

Jesse Cinquini
3 Min Read
Matt Marton-USA TODAY Sports

Chicago Bulls guard Alex Caruso put together an impressive two-way performance off the bench against the Toronto Raptors on Friday.

In 32 minutes, he finished with 13 points, 13 rebounds, two assists, two steals and one block in a game the Bulls won in overtime by a final score of 104-103.

Caruso converted five of his nine field-goal attempts and two of his five 3-point attempts in the victory. Plus, he nailed a 3-pointer to give the Bulls the lead with mere seconds remaining in overtime.

After the win, Bulls star DeMar DeRozan commented on Caruso’s defensive master class.

“It’s amazing,” he said. “It’s amazing. The effort that he puts, the sacrifice that he goes out there and plays with, throwing his body around, his IQ defensively, his instincts, it’s amazing to watch. You know, it’s kind of like letting a cheetah out of the cage just running wild. When he’s out there, he makes it look pretty.”

The 29-year-old is in his third season as a member of the Bulls after spending the first four seasons of his pro career playing for the storied Los Angeles Lakers franchise. He signed a four-year, $36.9 million deal with the Bulls in the summer of 2021.

Caruso averaged 5.6 points, 2.9 rebounds, 2.9 assists and 1.5 steals per game while shooting 45.5 percent from the field and 36.4 percent from behind the 3-point line in 67 games played with the Bulls during the 2022-23 regular season.

He also knocked down a career-high 80.8 percent of his free-throw attempts a season ago.

Caruso’s average of 1.5 steals per game was the highest on the 2022-23 iteration of the Bulls by a decent margin. DeRozan finished second on the team with 1.1 steals per game.

The team’s season came to an end against Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat in the play-in tournament. The Heat wound up representing the Eastern Conference in the 2023 NBA Finals.

Caruso is one of the best defenders at his position in the NBA right now, as evidenced by his showing against the Raptors on Friday.

The Bulls and Caruso will hope to earn their second win in a row when they take on Cade Cunningham and the Detroit Pistons on Saturday.

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Jesse is an aspiring sports journalist that has previously worked as a staff writer at SB Nation’s CelticsBlog and The Knicks Wall.