Sometimes it’s a quick glance over his shoulder before turning the other way. Other times it’s a fake with the ball or maybe with his head.
Either way, the result is more and more the same – Austin Reaves finds a way to create enough space to make a room.
Borrowing from the playbooks of NBA greats like Hakeem Olajuwon on one possession and Steve Smith on the next (he even channeled a two-handed Charles Barkley dunk), Reaves’ offensive acumen established him as a threat. consistent for the Lakers offense.
“Austin is just…he loves to play hoop,” coach Darvin Ham said. “Just a real all-round attacking player – he can do a ton of things towards that end.”
In a game the team needed to win before embarking on a tough six-game road trip, Reaves scored a season-high 22 points in the Lakers’ 128-109 win over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night at Crypto. .com Arena.
LeBron James scored 31 points, Anthony Davis had 27, Thomas Bryant had 14, and Russell Westbrook finished the second and third quarters with three points beating the buzzer as part of his 10 points.
For Reaves, it’s the eighth time in the last nine games that he’s scored at least 10 points.
“We trust him,” James said.
It was the Lakers’ sixth win in their last eight games, giving them some momentum as they set off on their longest road trip of the season with stops in Milwaukee, Washington, Cleveland, Toronto, Philadelphia and Detroit.
For the second game in a row, the Lakers built a big second-half lead and, oddly, for the second game in a row, the team celebrated with a fan winning a half-court shooting contest before the start of the fourth. quarter.
But unlike the game with the Indiana Pacers in which the Lakers spit a 17-point lead, they held off Portland thanks to their stars.
Against the Trail Blazers, who were playing without Damian Lillard and ex-Laker Josh Hart, James was in perfect rhythm offensively. He made his first seven shots, hitting hard on the last of that streak. He finished with six threes, seven rebounds and eight assists — a rebound after a tough fourth quarter in the Lakers’ loss on Tuesday when he shot two for eight.
He scored nine points in the fourth quarter, but it was Davis — who took just two shots against the Pacers in the final 12 minutes — who found another late gear. He made five of seven from the field and went to the free throw line four times en route to 14 points in the fourth quarter.
“It’s just a matter of knowing that this guy is the focal point and is going to make everybody’s life easier,” Ham said.
“…He’s kind of like our epicenter.”
For Davis, it was his eighth straight game with at least 20 points and 10 rebounds.
And although five Trail Blazers scored in double figures, led by Jerami Grant’s 27, only one other Portland player had multiple field goals.
The Lakers lost two starters with guards Lonnie Walker IV and Troy Brown Jr. both scratched before the game due to left foot pain. Afterwards, Ham said the two would be reassessed on Thursday.
The team will also waive winger Matt Ryan, who made the team as the 15th player out of training camp.
The Lakers, who picked up Patrick Beverley after a three-game suspension, had to use their 12th different starting lineup this season.
“It’s telling of the circumstances, for the most part,” Ham said before the game. “I mean, we’ve had guys who have been injured. We’ve had guys who have found diseases. I mean, it’s been a variety of reasons and so in the process of trying to find a consistent rotation, you’re going to go through that. Above all, it’s not just me, we, who have these different queues and everyone is in good health. You are forced to do different things at different times.
A replacement for Wednesday’s starting lineup, Reaves has shown his worth to the Lakers again, a steady hand with the ability to come loose when the team needs a bucket.
This story originally appeared in the Los Angeles Times.
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