Lakers News: Darvin Ham Believes Austin Reaves Played Like His ‘Normal Self’ On Career Night
Austin Reaves Darvin Ham Lakers
(Photo by Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images)

Austin Reaves had the best game of his NBA career on Sunday night, finishing with a career-high 35 points to go along with six rebounds and six assists in the Los Angeles Lakers’ win over the Orlando Magic. It was a real coming out party for Reaves, who even garnered some MVP chants from the home crowd.

Reaves really did it all, attacking the basket all night long which led to 18 free throw attempts, a number LeBron James has yet to reach this season, while also scoring the final 10 points of the night for the Lakers to ensure victory. And head coach Darvin Ham believes Reaves accomplished this by simply playing like his normal self.

“I thought as him being his normal self what he’s been all year coming up in clutch moments for us trying to make plays downhill put the defense in uncomfortable positions with this ability to attack the paint and draw fouls, so he was great,” Ham said after the win. “What he end up with 36? 35. We needed all of them tonight and just his aggressiveness is the reflection of 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 it on the night.”

With James out and Anthony Davis struggling against the size of the Magic, it was Reaves who took over the reins of the Lakers offense. He attacked the basket without fear or hesitation and that mindset is something Ham first noticed about him before the season.

“My impression was he just didn’t mind taking chances,” Ham noted. “We watch them in open gym and pick-up games and whatnot, you can see right away, he didn’t mind taking chances in terms of scoring at all three levels, guarding different people, some smaller than him. Some same size. Some bigger than him. He wasn’t afraid.

“And he’s just a flat-out hooper, he just loves to hoop. You can tell that by the way he works on his game, which has allowed him to be what he’s becoming to be. And that’s a consistent high-level, NBA basketball player. That’s multifaceted. So just right away, you can see his confidence. That’s the first thing about him that jumped out at me.”

To go from an undrafted player to a major rotation piece on the Lakers in under two years is something very few players are capable of. The lights shine brighter on this franchise than any other and not everyone can handle this level of pressure. But Reaves has proven that he can be relied upon in the biggest of situations and Ham will undoubtedly continue to turn to him in these times.

Anthony Davis: Austin Reaves ‘carried’ Lakers to win over Magic

Reaves was the topic of conversation for everyone after his amazing performance and Anthony Davis had high praise for the young guard.

“He played extremely well. He carried us tonight with his play,” Davis said. “Got whatever he wanted, pick-and-rolls, 3s, got to the line I think 18 times. We know what he have in Austin, he’s very confident and he played that way tonight.”

Davis noted the growth that Reaves has made in his two seasons, learning from all of the veterans last year and really coming into his own as a crucial part of the Lakers rotation this year.

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