LOS ANGELES – The Los Angeles Lakers continue to roll as they have now won 42 games on the season. The storied franchise was able to get the best of Ja Morant's Memphis Grizzlies on Friday night at the Staples Center with help from Alex Caruso, who continues to prove his worth, especially when sharing the floor with LeBron James.
In 23 minutes off the bench against the Grizzlies, Caruso chipped in with nine points, four rebounds, a steal, and one jaw-dropping dunk of a missed Anthony Davis free throw. Although those numbers aren't all that impressive on paper, his impact was felt and praised by LeBron as well as head coach Frank Vogel.
After the game, James talked about playing alongside Caruso and what he brings to the table for this Lakers team when the two are on the floor at the same time.
“Just playing the game the right way,” James said. “Very cerebral basketball players. We're making winning plays, both of us. We work well together, and every minute we're on the floor, we're just trying to make it productive, trying to be in the plus and not the minus. It's a great combination for our ball club.”
Caruso spoke about his budding chemistry with LeBron and how the two play off one another while sharing the floor.
“I just do a really good job of playing off of him,” Caruso says of chemistry with LeBron. “I think one of my biggest strengths is recognizing defensive assignments when we can attack and with LeBron, he draws so much attention that a lot of times there's a guy on the other team that's not paying attention and we take advantage of that. Once we do that, people are going to realize that and free up LeBron, so I think just for me – being a smart player, and LeBron is obviously very easy to play with. He's LeBron James.”
Vogel has been a big supporter of having Caruso and James on the floor at the same time. The Lakers head coach talked about his net rating when they share the floor and how the team will continue to explore the potential of this duo without forcing it moving forward.
‘There's the eye test, but LeBron and Alex together is one of our best combinations throughout the season from a net rating standpoint,” Vogel said of the Lakers duo. “We'll continue to explore ways that we can make sure that's getting out there enough without over-doing it. The last two games, he's just been playing out of his mind. He's given us great depth throughout the season, so we'll continue to evaluate.”
Despite the fact the team was looking for another ballhandler, they may have had their answer all along with Caruso.
However, his success has been tied to playing when LeBron is on the floor. The main concern for this Lakers team is when their superstar floor is sitting on the bench.
It remains to be seen whether the Lakers still explore bringing in another backcourt player, but the 25-year-old continues to prove he can get the job done when called upon.