Los Angeles Lakers rookie Austin Reaves cemented his status as the NBA’s rising star on Wednesday, sinking the game-winning shot in the overtime 107-104 victory over the Dallas Mavericks.
Reaves registered his season and career-highs in 3-pointers attempted and made, ending the night 5-of-6 from downtown. But his last triple was the most important as it secured the Lakers’ third win in a row — and immediately went viral on social media.
Head coach Frank Vogel pointed out Russell Westbrook’s pass to Reaves carried as much weight as the rookie’s shot itself. Wayne Ellington found the 2017 NBA MVP wide open in the corner in the last seconds of the game, but he dashed into the paint and sent the ball to Reaves on the other side of the court.
Besides serving the guard with the dime, Westbrook has said he wanted to make sure Reaves took joy from that special moment of his career.
“Man, it’s amazing, especially for him,” the 33-year-old said. “Austin obviously played at OU, so I’ve kind of been watching him a little bit from a distance. To see him and all his work come to life in one moment, I know he’s filled with joy and my job is to make sure to keep uplifting him regardless of what’s going on and everybody did that. Jumped on him. Made him feel good about himself and what he was doing.
“It was a good moment for him.”
Westbrook added he has effectively taken the guard under his wing, helping him build confidence in his shot.
“From Day 1, I always told him to stay positive,” he said. “You can’t react when you miss and make shots. Everybody’s not going to make every single shot every single night and that’s a part of the game. As long as you keep putting the work and time in and it counts, you are going to make shots.
“It was one of those nights and I’m just happy to be able to enjoy that moment with him.”
Reaves opens up on Westbrook’s mentorship
Reaves has emphasized Westbrook’s tutelage and the role it has played in his growth this year. The rookie said his All-Star teammate has been whispering into his ear ever since the summer league.
“Like I said earlier, just the confidence that Russ instills in me is a story going back to Sacramento in Summer League where I went 1-for-8 from three,” Reaves said recently.
“He come in the locker room and was like, ‘Way to shoot it.’ I’m looking at him like what are you talking about. I shot horrible. ‘Nah, I’m just happy you’re shooting it.’ Just those little things throughout the course from everybody on the team. It can be AB, [Rajon] Rondo.
“Just things like that really instill confidence in myself.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!