PORTLAND, Ore. — Bulls guard Alex Caruso knows how Hollywood works. He spent four seasons with the Lakers in Los Angeles, where “there has to be storylines outside the game that they have to run with,” he said.
So he also knows what awaits him when he returns to his first NBA home this weekend, as the Bulls play the Lakers and Clippers back-to-back. All Caruso has heard the last few months are comparisons between him and new Lakers cult figure Austin Reaves.
“There’s not a ton in common, and that’s what’s funny about it,” Caruso said.
Both players are white. Both have played for the Lakers. But it ends there, as far as Caruso is concerned.
“He’s a guy who’s basically been in the NBA his whole career,” Caruso, 29, said of the 24-year-old Reaves. “I was a guy who wasn’t drafted, went to the G-League for a year, played in three Summer Leagues to try and get on a team, and still, even then, [was] grinding my way to get minutes and carving a role out.
“He’s a really good player, too. It’s the world we live in. We live in a world of comparisons, and that’s what it is. Plus, it’s a part of playing in L.A. I’m sure he’s in the same boat I am. He’s probably like, ‘I’m just trying to hoop and have a good career,’ and he’s getting questions like that. It’s part of the league. Something dumb like that pops up, and you just move on.”
Could forward DeMar DeRozan have played Friday night against the Trail Blazers if it were a playoff game? Yes.
But considering the Trail Blazers were basically throwing a G-League team out there, the Bulls and DeRozan opted to rest his sore hip another day so the Compton native could be ready for his L.A. homecoming.
“Same thing he’s been dealing with — that kind of thigh, hip area there on the side,” coach Billy Donovan said. “He got treatment [Thursday and] came over here early before [Friday] shootaround, kind of worked through it. I think he’s definitely feeling better, but they just want to be cautious with him, just based on his history and what’s happened, because he’s been out twice with this.
“I don’t think it’s at the level it was right before we went to Paris [in January]. DeMar, just knowing his body, caught it sooner than that.”
As long as DeRozan can do some work at Saturday’s practice at USC, he should be a go Sunday against the Lakers.
Patience with Pat
No Bulls teammate has defended forward Patrick Williams’ inconsistencies more than DeRozan, who wasn’t changing his tune, even with Williams putting up mediocre numbers again lately.
“He’s coming along,” DeRozan said recently. “Staying on him, pushing him, giving him advice, but making it fun at the same time. Sometimes it takes a lot of that to unlock what’s inside of you, and then you can start having games like he did [in Denver, when he scored 18]. It’s about following it up consistently.”
Entering Friday, Williams had scored in single digits in four of his last six games. He had three points in a win over the Rockets two weeks ago.