Lakers News: Frank Vogel Emphasizes Russell Westbrook’s Role In Lead-Up To Austin Reaves’ Game-Winning 3-Pointer
(Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images)

The Los Angeles Lakers clash with the Dallas Mavericks turned into a wild 3-point shooting contest late on Wednesday night, ended by a dagger three from rookie Austin Reaves in overtime.

Before that, Wayne Ellington sank a late triple himself to tie the game with just seconds left in the fourth quarter. Both teams launched a barrage of 3-pointers toward the end of the game, some of them fired from way outside.

Even though rookie Reaves stole the headlines with the first game-winning shot of his career, head coach Frank Vogel emphasized Russell Westbrook’s role in the lead-up to the rookie’s attempt. Ellington found Westbrook wide open in the corner with five seconds left on the clock.

But instead of taking the shot himself, the 2017 NBA MVP drove into the paint and then passed the ball to Reaves on the other side of the floor.

“To me, that shot, I think Russell is the guy that needs to be celebrated as much as Austin because that’s everything we talk about with our group,” Vogel said.

“Balancing our talent is gonna be about trusting the next man and the open man is more talented than any one individual and for Russell to drive the paint in a moment like that, have the ability to finish but trust a teammate with the extra pass and get rewarded for that extra pass, big growth moment for our team.”

Similarly to Ellington, Westbrook also hit a crucial 3-pointer late in the fourth quarter to tie the game in a hectic stretch toward the end of regulation. But the 33-year-old guard said he recognized that in those final seconds of overtime, taking the shot himself wouldn’t be the right play to make.

“I understand what I’m able to do when the game is on the line and my job is to make the right read regardless of who it was,” Westbrook said.

“It happened to be Austin right there… Austin made a big shot. He’s been making them all game and that was a big shot obviously for us to go on with the win.”

Vogel explains leaving Reaves in lineup during overtime

Reaves replaced Avery Bradley in the lineup that won the game for the Lakers in extra time. Vogel said the rookie’s performance throughout the night earned him the opportunity to play extended minutes against the Mavericks.

“It was clear, he was just playing exceptional on both ends,” the head coach said. “That’s what we love about him, he’s a two-way player.

“Guys in this league don’t recognize him so they think they can target him, but he’s a really good defender with good length and good feet. So it was an easy decision when he’s defending at a high level, he ends up 5-for-6 from three at a time where we’re deciding whether to keep him in there and he’s playing on a high level on both sides of the ball.”

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