NBA

Reaves takes glory as Anthony Davis salutes Lakers' unlikely hero

By Sports Desk December 16, 2021

Austin Reaves admits he had always been the underdog on his way to the NBA, but for one night at least he was the hero for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The 23-year-old rookie earned a spot in the Lakers set-up after impressing in the Summer League, and now he is showing up as a big-league prospect, hitting the winning three-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks on Wednesday night with 0.9 seconds left in overtime.

Reaves posted an NBA career-best 15 points and seven rebounds, making five of six three-point shots, earning high praise from superstar team-mate Anthony Davis after the Lakers' 107-104 win.

Davis said: "It's testament to the hard work he's putting in. He's a sponge. He's soaking up all the information that we give him. He wants to learn, he wants to get better.

"He's not afraid of the moment. He's a hard worker. He plays hard, does the right things. Even when we get on him during a game, he's right here accepting the criticism, accepting the help, and applying it on the floor."

LeBron James scored a team-high 24 points, adding three rebounds and five assists, but missed a last-gasp three-point attempt in normal time. The Mavs fumbled the rebound and Wayne Ellington swooped to hit a triple to send the game overtime.

Russell Westbrook (23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists) came up with a clutch three-pointer in overtime, while Davis had 20 points and 12 rebounds.

Both sides traded triples in overtime, but shooting guard Reaves stepped up for the game-winning basket after being found by Westbrook wide open, lifting the Lakers to a 16-13 record with their third straight win.

"Great pass by Russ, great shot by Austin," Davis said. "Didn't even hit the net, it was a huge, huge shot for him."

It was described as "a hell of a shot" by coach Frank Vogel.

Reaves, roared into the locker room by team-mates and drenched in water as a prank, reflected on a tough journey to this moment in his career.

He said: "It's been the story of my life, I've always been under-rated. But at the end of the day you've got to produce on the basketball court 

"For me to hit that shot and for my team-mates to have the trust in me to take that shot is very, very special."

The Lakers had players sidelined by COVID-19 protocols, in a sign of the times for the NBA.

James said the team were "kind of living in the moment right now" in that regard.

"There's been a lot going on," he said. "We have a lot of injuries, a lot of mixed line-ups, a lot of guys in protocols, false protocols, things of that nature, so we are what we are as a team right now, and we like where we’re at."

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