Entering Sunday night against the Orlando Magic, the Los Angeles Lakers were desperate for a win after seeing their hearts get broken in a loss to the Dallas Mavericks.
The Lakers are embroiled in a tight race for one of the four Play-In Tournament spots and while the Magic’s record isn’t great on paper they’re a feisty team that beat the L.A. Clippers the night before. To no one’s surprise, Orlando hung with Los Angeles throughout the night and even threatened to take the lead late in the game before Austin Reaves stepped up when the lights were their brightest.
Reaves dominated the game from the first moment he checked in, immediately going to work on the offensive end and scoring in a variety of ways to keep the Lakers just one step ahead of the Magic. Orlando had no answers for Reaves who seemed to be everywhere on the court, and that was especially true in crunch time as the former undrafted free agent took over in the final minutes.
Reaves was a maestro with the basketball in his hands, getting to his spots and finishing through traffic to draw tough and-ones. In fact, he was able to induce contact on nearly every one of his drives as evidenced by his 18 free throw attempts. The second-year guard led the way for Los Angeles, scoring a career-high 35 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists in what was his best game as a pro to date.
After several down shooting games, D’Angelo Russell finally found his scoring rhythm. Russell poured in 18 points and six assists while going 4-of-8 from the 3-point line. Like Reaves, he was able to hit timely shots to keep L.A. ahead.
For the second game in a row, it was a quiet effort from Anthony Davis, who struggled to score against a stingy Magic defense. Davis only managed to only score 15 points on 6-of-15 from the field, but he did pull down 11 boards and more impressively had four blocks. While his offense left much to be desired, he turned it up defensively in the fourth quarter to give the Lakers some momentum.
Up next for Lakers
The purple and gold get a couple of days off before their homestand continues on Wednesday against the Phoenix Suns. The Lakers then get another pivotal game against the Oklahoma City Thunder on Friday before closing out the weekend with their first regular season matchup against the Chicago Bulls.
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