It’s all in the details as far as the Bulls’ Alex Caruso is concerned

The defensive-minded Caruso has liked what he’s seen late in the last two games. But the next step is getting his teammates to embrace the details from the tip, so they don’t have to play at a mad scramble.

SHARE It’s all in the details as far as the Bulls’ Alex Caruso is concerned
The Bulls’ Alex Caruso takes the inbounds pass during a game against the Knicks in December.

“I think we’ve shown several times this year that when we [communicate] at a high level we’re a really, really good team. It’s just a consistency thing, though,” the Bulls’ Alex Caruso said.

Charles Rex Arbogast/AP

The amount of knowledge that Alex Caruso absorbed from LeBron Jones is immeasurable.

But what the Bulls guard took away most from the NBA legend was attention to detail — not only in film study, but also in in-game tendencies. James thrived in that department, and Caruso considered himself a star pupil.

That’s why the last two games the Bulls played have given Caruso hope.

In both games, the defense was front-and-center in crunch time. Whether it was a simple deflection to mess up the timing of a possession, a simple rotation into the passing lane to create confusion or selling out to steal the ball, it was a focus on the details that this Bulls team just doesn’t show enough.

And while the Bulls went 1-1 in those games — beating the Pistons 132-118 but losing the Cavaliers 103-102 — those teaching moments on defense are something to build on.

“It’s just about being on point with your communication and your rotations, closeouts, little things like that, and just covering for each other,’’ Caruso said. “I think we’ve shown several times this year that when we do it at a high level we’re a really, really good team. It’s just a consistency thing, though.

“I mean look at that first half [Saturday against the Cavs], we had a group of guys out there and we allowed them to extend it out to 10 because we were a little lazy with [the defense]. I was on the court, and then we had another spurt where they extended it out to 10 again, so we had to keep fighting back, fighting back. We’re just trying to be consistent. We have to limit those spurts. That’s what’s going to win out over time.’’

It definitely did Friday, after the nine-win Pistons tied the game with just over five minutes left.

First there was a Patrick Williams steal, then the Bulls forced the young Pistons into a shot-clock violation, then Caruso blocked a Jaden Ivey three-point attempt before forcing Bojan Bogdanovic to turn the ball over by stepping out of bounds.

The tie quickly turned into a 12-point Bulls lead, and the Bulls won by 14.

On Saturday against the Cavs, the Bulls faced a five-point deficit with just under five minutes left.

But then Ayo Dosunmu, Nikola Vucevic and Caruso each and steals. Dosunmu had another steal on a Donovan Mitchell pass, leading to a DeMar DeRozan driving layup that cut the deficit to one with 29 seconds left.

A clutch stop on Caris LeVert’s missed jumper gave the Bulls the opportunity to win the game, but DeRozan missed a 15-footer over a double-team as time expired.

“We’re not going to be perfect on the defensive end,’’ Caruso said. “But if you have the right intentions you can erase deficits like that and at least give yourself a chance to win the game.’’

And that’s all Caruso is asking for.

Keeping up that frenetic pace for 48 minutes is absolutely unrealistic for an NBA team, but limiting the defensive lapses that plague the Bulls isn’t a big ask.

That’s what Caruso would like to see. There are valuable lessons to be learned from the last two games, and the veteran guard is hoping those lessons have some staying power.

“I think we have the right intentions with it,’’ Caruso said. “Obviously we’re not doing it every single possession, but I don’t think that anyone in the league is capable of that. Coaches have put us in a good spot. It’s about taking the information they give us and executing it on the floor. Like I said, the details.

“We’ve shown that could lead to some good things.’’

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