The Los Angeles Lakers are finally on their way home after a five-game road trip, ending in a victory over the Charlotte Hornets on Monday night.
It was the perfect way to ring in the new year and encouraged head coach Darvin Ham, who thinks his team is in a good space. The win against the Hornets was much-needed, but perhaps even more so for Austin Reaves.
Reaves had largely been struggling offensively the past few games but broke out against Charlotte with a 15-point, seven-assist, six-rebound performance. Afterward, the second-year guard credited Russell Westbrook with helping him get through his rough patch, via NBA.com:
“The past, I don’t know, four days or whatever I’ve been super frustrated with myself just cause I hold myself to a high standard. I truthfully believe every ball I shoot should go in. Obviously, that’s not the nature of the sport but everybody on the team and coaching staff just kept preaching to me to stay with it. You miss shots, you have games like that. I was talking to Russ after the Atlanta game and he told me he remembers he was playing Memphis and I think he went 0-for-11 from the field. Just hearing it from someone that’s as successful as him helped me a lot too just because it’s life. Stuff happens, you got to push through. It’s a long season, there’s ups and downs. Obviously that’s what sports is.”
The sophomore also made sure to shout out Phil Handy, who gave him advice as well:
“For the most part, like you said, I went back and watched all my shots and the majority of them were good shots. Unfortunately, they didn’t go in but it wasn’t like I was taking shots and going to the bench and coaching staff and players are like, ‘Why are you shooting that?’ It was, ‘Good shot, continue to make the right play. If you’re open, shoot it again.’ Like you said, there was a couple people who were probably thinking that. Like I said, it’s basketball. Nobody’s perfect, everybody goes through these games. You just got to look forward. If you dwell on it, you’re gonna kind of stick into that energy that brings…you’re not playing well. I was actually talking with Phil Handy this morning and we were talking about just energy and mindset and controlling that type of part of it. Because I’ve been, like I said, super frustrated the last four days and his big message to me was just let it all go. Go back to being who you are, joking around, messing around, having a good time and things will happen.”
Reaves rediscovering his shooting stroke is a welcomed development for the Lakers who need all the help they can get on that end while Anthony Davis remains out. It was one game, but hopefully Reaves can hold onto this momentum when they play the Miami Heat on Wednesday.
Austin Reaves set to make more than Alex Caruso in free agency
Due to his undrafted status and productivity early on in his career, Reaves often gets compared to former Laker Alex Caruso.
Caruso signed a four-year, $36 million deal with the Chicago Bulls but Reaves will reportedly make a higher annual average value during free agency this upcoming summer.
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