There have not been many bright spots for the Los Angeles Lakers during the 2021-22 season as they have severely underwhelmed their preseason expectations as a title contender.
Instead, the Lakers are the ninth seed in the Western Conference and had to stomach another brutal loss, this time to their Pacific Division rivals the Golden State Warriors, on Saturday night. Surprisingly enough, Los Angeles played with a tenacity that had not been present in recent weeks which could be attributed to the trade deadline coming and going.
The Lakers wound up losing 117-115, with free throws being the primary reason why they could not pull the upset. While the defeat is going to sting for the next couple of days, Austin Reaves shined again and gave fans something to cheer about.
Reaves was a key piece in L.A’s near win over Golden State and head coach Frank Vogel had nothing but praise for the rookie.
“He’s a solid all-around player,” Vogel said. “He was very impressive down the stretch. Making big plays offensively. He’s got a great computer to process help and see whether to shoot or make the extra pass. Obviously, he’s got a lot of guts to make big shots and he really competes on the defensive side. He’s got a really good IQ down on that end. He had a hell of a night.”
Aside from Vogel, Russell Westbrook was just impressed and said Reaves has a bright NBA future ahead of him.
“I thought he did a good job, man. Being solid. People always underestimate his ability to make the right plays and tonight he did a good job on both ends. His energy was high and he continues to do that, he’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time. He did a good job for us tonight,” Westbrook said.
All season long, Reaves has turned heads for his heady two-way play and he showed a little bit of everything against the Warriors. Reaves had 13 points, three rebounds, and two assists but his highlight of the night came when he chased down Klay Thompson for a huge block in the fourth.
The 23-year-old has certainly earned the respect of people like Vogel, Westbrook, and even LeBron James, and it will be exciting to see how he can build upon this brilliant performance.
Frank Vogel has noticed how often Austin Reaves gets hit in the face
Reaves has endeared himself to Lakers fans with how hard he plays on both ends, but sometimes that effort comes at a price as he is often seen taking a shot to his face. Reaves gets hit in the face seemingly every game and Vogel acknowledged he has noticed it.
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