Lakers News: LeBron James & Anthony Davis Praise ‘Sensational’ Defense From Austin Reaves On Shai Gilgeous-Alexander
Austin Reaves, Shai Gilgious-Alexander, Lakers, Thunder
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers walked out of a matchup with the Oklahoma City Thunder unscathed, winning 116-104 in a game that L.A. controlled from the get-go. The offensive performance by D’Angelo Russell was the major storyline, but superstars LeBron James and Anthony Davis focused on the other end of the floor, where Austin Reaves dealt with the difficult task of guarding Thunder star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander.

Gilgeous-Alexander, the sixth-year superstar, is averaging 31.1 points, 5.6 rebounds and 6.5 assists with a league-leading 2.2 steals per game on 54.6/38.3/88.2 shooting splits. And yet, against Reaves and the Lakers on Monday, he managed only 20 points and four assists on 5-for-13 shooting. It was his first sub-30-point performance since Feb. 10 and his lowest point total since Jan. 16.

James credited Reaves for his stellar effort against Gilgeous-Alexander, especially with Reaves’ defensive struggles becoming more of an area of focus this season.

“He just took the challenge,” James said. “I mean, obviously Shai is one of the best players we have in our league. He was just trying not to put him on the free-throw line because that’s where he gets a lot of his points from too. I thought Austin was sensational from start to finish when he was on the floor just trying to contain the ball and making Shai and J-Will take tough shots, Giddey at times. And we just tried to protect him on the back end.”

Davis, the Lakers’ best defensive player and one of the best in the league on that end of the floor, also spoke highly of what Reaves did against the Thunder MVP candidate.

“Yeah, he did a great job of moving his feet knowing that Shai likes to get to his reverse between kind of like a little push off and get to his middy or get to the lane uses pump fakes and draw fouls and things like that,” Davis said.

“So I think we did a good job now putting him on the line they already gonna make tough shots, but you don’t want to combat that would put him on the line as well now to kind of get it going. So he did a great job starting off on him, just making it tough for him and funneling him to our defense and get great contests and they missed some shots early. He made a couple of plays down late. But AR did a good job.”

Davis and James are always the first to praise the Lakers’ role players when they excel in a given matchup, and Reaves certainly did that against the Thunder. It was arguably his best defensive performance of the season, and it came when the Lakers truly needed it most.

Austin Reaves praises D’Angelo Russell

The Lakers were all good vibes after their win against the Thunder, and Reaves — who impressed defensively — took time to praise Russell for his work on the other end.

“The way that he gets his buckets in spurts like that when he gets hot is a beautiful thing to see,” Reaves said of Russell after the win. “If you roll back the tape, as soon as he got the ball, me and AD stood up and we knew it was going up even when he passed it. We knew Bron was gonna give it back to him and we knew it was going up and once he let it go, it looked good.

“But yeah, if I can go 4-for-5 and it gets overshadowed by anything we do, I’ll be the first one to be happy about that.”

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