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Defensive specialist Caruso trying to become a 3-point threat for Bulls

Usually known as a defensive specialist, Alex Caruso went 4-for-6 from 3-point range in the Bulls’ preseason win over Denver on Thursday.

In the regular season that’s something Caruso hasn’t done since 2018-19. He’s hit more than three 3-pointers in a game just twice — one game with 4, one with 5, which happened a week apart while playing for the Lakers.

The Bulls are determined to make more 3-point baskets this season, so the performance of Caruso and newcomer Jevon Carter (2-for-3) on Thursday was encouraging, because those are 3-pointers the Bulls generally weren’t getting last season.

“It’s almost selfish of me when I don’t take the ones that I need to take,” said Caruso, who averaged 2.3 long-range attempts last year. “I’m such an unselfish guy, try to give back to the team, but a lot of times if I don’t take the shots or be aggressive in situations, it is me being selfish. I’m just trying to recognize those opportunities.”

Caruso suggested it’s coach Billy Donovan and the Bulls’ player development coaches sending that message. The first step to stretching the defense and making more 3s is taking the shots when they’re open.

“I don’t think we have a prolific shooting group,” Zach LaVine said. “But if we can get a lot of good looks, if we can get in the paint and get open corner 3s, swing-swing 3s, I think it opens it up for guys like me, DeMar (DeRozan) and Vuc (Nikola Vucevic) to where now we have easier looks and easier shots because they’re not as compressed in the lane.”


        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

The Bulls’ five starters went 2-for-12 from 3-point land against the Nuggets, so this is definitely a work in progress. After last season the team brought in former DePaul and Loyola Academy star Peter Patton to serve as a shooting coach. He’d been working with the Dallas Mavericks the past few years.

“I’ve worked with Patton a little bit,” Caruso said. “He’s been a great addition for us. We have a great PD staff, a bunch of guys that are really sacrificial and ready to work. Anytime we want to get some shots up they’re there for us.”

The Bulls ranked last in the NBA in made 3-pointers last season with 10.4 per game. In the first two preseason contests, they’ve made 13 and 11, excluding Thursday’s two overtimes against the Nuggets.

“I think Alex has worked hard to become a better shooter,” Donovan said. “But like anybody, you miss 2 or 3 shots, you don’t want to feel like you’re doing something that’s detrimental. But it’s not. We need him to take those shots. Those are good, high-quality shots and sometimes in possessions, you’re not going to get a better look than that.”

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

 

Donovan was enthused about the Bulls’ offensive rebounding against Denver. The Bulls led 21-3 in offensive boards through four quarters, though many of those were Andre Drummond trying to tip in his own misses.

Donovan has talked about designating certain guys to go after offensive rebounds and pointed to Ayo Dosunmu, who extended three possessions with offensive boards early in the third quarter. The third-year guard started the second half at point guard.

“My man Ayo, right?” Donovan said. “We talked about go-guys going. Did he go tonight or what? He wanted to be a go-guy, he went. I give him a lot of credit. He generated a lot of extra possessions for us. We need to have guys with that kind of mentality.”

The Bulls’ next preseason contest is Sunday at Denver, with two more home games to follow next week.

Twitter: @McGrawDHSports

        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        
        

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