Austin Reaves, in his playoff debut, turned heads with an incredible performance in Game 1 of the series between the LA Lakers and Memphis Grizzlies. Reaves’ spectacular fourth quarter helped the Lakers steal home-court advantage from the Grizzlies with a 128-112 win.
After the game, LeBron James had this to say about the Reaves’ previously unheard of steamy night:
“It’s not surprising to me. I knew from the first practice we had that he wasn’t going to be a two-way player for long. … I’ve been in the game long enough to know great basketball IQ players and I know the type of players that fit my game and I knew Austin (Reaves) would be right away.
“I have to give Coach Vogel a lot of credit for just throwing him in the fire and letting him learn on the fly and allowing him to make mistakes and letting him play through a lot of things . … It’s no surprise what he’s doing tonight. … I am extremely happy for him.
Austin Reaves was an undrafted rookie in 2021. On August 3 of that year, he signed a two-way deal with the LA Lakers. A month later, the team decided to give him a standard contract.
In the Lakers’ terrible 2021-22 campaign, the former Oklahoma star showed a glimpse of what he could do. He was grilled by Laker Nation on Dec. 15 when he dropped a game-winning three-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks.
Before the Lakers ended their embarrassing season in 2022, Austin Reaves reminded basketball fans that there was more to come. He scored the first triple-double of his career in LA’s 146-141 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets.
Reaves then had a career-high 31 points, 16 rebounds and 10 assists.
Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura were the heroes of the LA Lakers’ crucial Game 1 win over the Memphis Grizzlies
The LA Lakers had healthy LeBron James and Anthony Davis, but it was Rui Hachimura and Austin Reaves who had the biggest impact. Hachimura scored a team-high 29 points in 30 minutes off the bench. The Japanese basketball star had 11-14 field goal attempts, including 5-6 from behind the arc.
Hachimura’s 21 points, where he missed just one of nine shots in the second half, were crucial. His four three-pointers in the third quarter kept the Grizzlies at bay and plagued the defense.
Over his last four games, all of which have been crucial for the Lakers, Rui Hachimura has averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He hits 54.5% of his shots, including 44.4% from behind the arc.
Austin Reaves, on the other hand, made several clutch baskets in the closing minutes of the game. He scored nine straight points to snuff out the Memphis Grizzlies’ desperate push to tie and potentially win the game.
Reaves is no longer overlooked. He shouted “I’m him” to the loudly hostile crowd after scoring on a fade jump shot.