After a 2-10 start to the season, the Los Angeles Lakers battled all the way back and now find themselves in a position to make the postseason. Not only that, but they also have a chance to avoid the Play-In Tournament entirely, which would undoubtedly give them a huge boost.
On Friday night, they took down the short-handed Phoenix Suns, keeping their hopes of avoiding the Play-In alive. After the game, head coach Darvin Ham sent a message on Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, and Malik Beasley, noting how important their shooting is, especially when it comes to supporting LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
“It’s huge. For those guys [Reaves, Russell, and Beasley] to be able to carry the load and make some shots and have their own different segments during the game, it’s huge, man,” Ham said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “The more pressure we can take off Bron and AD so they don’t have to to go out and save the day or make every play, the better. When they can just play manageable minutes, and those other guys step up and come out and play well, it just makes us that much more dangerous, and it also saves some gas for our two big dogs.”
Reaves played a huge role against the Suns. He finished the game with 22 points, five assists, and one steal on 9-of-13 shooting from the field and 1-of-4 shooting from behind the three-point line.
Russell put up 24 points, three rebounds, and three assists on 9-of-14 shooting from the floor and 6-of-9 shooting from deep. Meanwhile, Beasley ended the game with 21 points, two rebounds, two assists, and two steals on 7-of-14 shooting overall and 4-of-10 shooting from distance.
LeBron James Shows Love to Malik Beasley
In addition, after the game, James gave credit to Beasley and the other Lakers players who helped pick up the slack against the Suns.
“Well, I mean, there’s nobody that they can really just key on,” James explained via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “They can’t just key on AD. They can’t just key on me. When you have Beas shooting the way he was shooting tonight. You got D-Lo shooting the ball at a high rate. You got AR, who’s been playing exceptional all season. Just keeps the defense always at bay.”
Anthony Davis Praises Lakers Shooters
Meanwhile, Davis sent a similar message to the one James relayed, praising the Lakers’ shooters who were able to step up while he and James were struggling.
“We’re not going to always shoot the ball well,” Davis said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “Bron struggled tonight, I struggled tonight shooting the ball. But we have a complete team. Beas shot the ball pretty well. D-Lo, Troy [Brown Jr.], [and] Austin. The depth on our team is really strong where Bron has 16, I had 14, and we were still able to get a very convincing win.”
Davis and James combined to score just 30 points, but a trio of Lakers scoring 20-plus helped make up for their struggles.