At this point in the season, the only thing on the Los Angeles Lakers’ minds should be winning. They struggled mightily to start the season, but now, they have a real chance to make the playoffs and do some damage after their trade deadline moves.
On Wednesday night, they took down the Phoenix Suns – a conference rival and another team fighting for playoff positioning in the West. Austin Reaves was placed into the starting lineup and played a huge role, and after the game, head coach Darvin Ham showed love to Malik Beasley for being a pro despite getting benched for Reaves.
“I think he [Reaves] was huge,” Ham said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “He helped get us off to a great start. His ability to play downhill, draw fouls, score at all three levels, find guys, [and] his ability to play make. I mean, he was huge for us. He’s been huge for us all year. You mentioned last game, he’s in a great space right now. Feeling him his game and just locked into what we’re trying to accomplish. And I just felt like it made all the sense in the world. And salute the Beas [Beasley], being a pro’s pro. Understanding the strategic part of it. And Beas was locked and ready. He came off the bench, hit two big threes for us, and competed. That’s what we need, man. That’s the competitiveness, but the togetherness that I’ve mentioned all year.”
Beasley didn’t put up crazy stats off the bench, but he still played a decent role. He dropped six points and four rebounds on 2-of-6 shooting from the field and 2-of-5 shooting from behind the three-point line.
As for Reaves, he was huge for the Lakers. He finished the game with 25 points, four rebounds, and 11 assists on 6-of-10 shooting from the field and 1-of-1 shooting from behind the three-point line. The Lakers guard also shot 12-of-13 from the free-throw line.
Austin Reaves Sounds Off on Darvin Ham
After the game, Reaves spoke about when Ham told him that he was going to start against the Suns.
“He pulled me aside yesterday after practice and told me that I would be starting,” Reaves said via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “But for me, it’s truly the same mindset going into every game, and it’s win. At all costs, win. And that’s all that really matters. So, there’s not much different starting [or] not starting. For me, it’s really just go out and play basketball the way that I always have and the way that I love.”
D’Angelo Russell Makes Kobe Bryant Comparison
Meanwhile, after the game, D’Angelo Russell compared the energy LA’s crowd gave to Reaves to how they showed love to Kobe Bryant.
“It’s huge,” Russell said of the Lakers crowd’s impact via the NBA Interviews YouTube channel. “Like I said, I’ve been here in the past [and] I remember that. Kobe and guys like that controlling that environment from just dominating the game. And the fans can’t wait to cheer for it. So, even if it’s Austin Reaves, I guess they love Austin. So, whenever we can get him going, it helps our team. So, I know it. I think a lot of guys know it. Whenever we can return a favor like that, I think it’s good for both sides.”