Austin Reaves produced a career performance for the Los Angeles Lakers, getting to the line 18 times throughout their March 19 victory over the Orlando Magic.
Reaves, 24, was relentlessly aggressive with the ball in his hands and heaped pressure onto Orlando’s defense throughout the contest, especially when they got into the bonus early in the fourth quarter.
When speaking to the media following Orlando’s loss, Magic head coach Jamahl Mosley pinpointed Reaves’ attempts at the free throw line as something his team needs to work on, as the sophomore guard took more attempts from the charity stripe than the entire Magic team combined.
“We’ve gotta do a better job of defending without fouling,” Mosley said. “The fact that we put Austin Reaves on the line 18 times when we only shot 17 free throws as a team, so, we’ve gotta just do a better job of showing our hands and being in help earlier.”
Reaves finished the game with 35 points, 6 rebounds, and 6 assists while shooting 64.3% from the field, 25% from deep, and 88.9% from the free throw line.
Darvin Ham Praises Austin Reaves
Reaves’ ability to remain aggressive throughout a game has endured him to Lakers fans since he joined the team in the 2021-22 season. It would also appear that head coach Darvin Ham, in his first year coaching the team, has become a fan of what Reaves brings to the table.
Following the Lakers’ victory over Orlando, which snapped a two-game losing streak, Ham credited Reaves’ performance and noted how the team needed him to step up throughout the contest.
“I thought it was him being his normal self,” Ham said. “What he’s been all year. Coming up in clutch moments for us. Trying to make plays downhill. Putting the defense in uncomfortable positions with his ability to attack the paint and draw fouls. So, he was great. He ended up with 36 [and] we needed all of them tonight. His aggressiveness reflects in his free-throw attempts. But that’s been Austin all year. He’s a hell of a player. Happy he’s on our team, and we damn sure needed him tonight.”
LeBron James Sends Message to Austin Reaves
Shortly after the Lakers cemented their win over the Magic, LeBron James took to Twitter to credit Reaves’ on a career scoring performance, pinpointing the guard’s toughness as a factor.
“AR YOU A BAD MUTHA…SHUT YO MOUTH!!! You toooooo TOUGH!!,” James Tweeted.
LeBron has missed the Lakers’ last 11 games with a foot injury and is currently expected to remain on the sidelines indefinitely as he continues to recover and rehab from his latest setback. Although, it should be noted that Ham is optimistic that LeBron will return to the court at some point this season.
The Lakers will now have two days off before they face the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday, March 22, in what will likely be seen as must win game for the purple and gold as they continue to chase postseason qualification.