NBA

Reaves lost for words after LeBron praise following career-high haul in Lakers win

By Sports Desk March 20, 2023

Austin Reaves was lost for words after praise from four-time MVP team-mate LeBron James following his career-best 35 points led the Los Angeles Lakers to a crucial win on Sunday.

Reaves top scored for the Lakers, including scoring their last 10 points, in the 111-105 win over the Orlando Magic, which moved them into a tie for ninth in the Western Conference with a 35-37 record.

The shooting guard made his telling contribution in 30 minutes off the bench. Reaves became the seventh player in franchise history to score 35 points or more off the bench.

The Lakers bench contributed 61 of their 111 points, but Reaves earned special praise from James.

James, who missed his 11th straight game due to a right-foot injury, wrote on social media "You toooooo TOUGH!!" about Reaves after his game-winning display.

"You're talking about arguably one of the greatest players ever," Reaves told reporters. "I mean I don't know what to say.

"For him to accept me the way he accepted me from day one, obviously I felt there was a really good chemistry, IQ-wise, from day one. But not just him, everybody else."

Anthony Davis, who contributed 15 points with 11 rebounds and four blocks, heaped further praise on Reaves.

"He carried us tonight with his play," Davis said. "We know what we have in Austin. He's very confident and he played that way tonight."

The Lakers' Crypto.com Arena crowd went so far as to chant M-V-P towards Reaves for his performance, which he revelled in.

"For them to recognise what I do – obviously not an MVP-calibre player, those guys are really good – but for them to do that for me is special, it means a lot to me," Reaves said.

"Every time I take the court, play with a sense of urgency and leave it all out on the floor, because that's how I feel basketball should be played."

Reaves is averaging 11.6 points, 2.9 rebounds and 2.8 assists per game this season, but has managed double-digit scores in the Lakers' past eight games, averaging 15.9 points during March.

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