On Wednesday night, a star was born and an All-Star teammate may have saved his job after the Lakers beat the Mavericks in overtime, 107-104.
Ups and downs have plagued the Southland in the first 28 games of the season and no win has been ‘guaranteed’ for the Lakers as of late. But they found the chemistry and had a thrilling victory over Dallas.
In the second quarter, the Lakers were outscored 27-14. Brunson was a headache for the Lakers — recording 25 points and nine assists. Porzingis added 23 points on 23 shot attempts, which wasn’t a prime performance in the end.
LeBron James scored 24 points, Anthony Davis contributed with a modest double-double (20 points, 12 rebounds) and Russell Westbrook played the type of acute basketball that has made him both an All-Star and an MVP.
Despite often resembling the worst version of Russ and driving Lakers fans up the wall this season, Westbrook showcased an awareness to turn things on when needed and producing enough good deeds on Wednesday. Some takeaways:
- Russ had the stats – adding 23 points, 10 rebounds and nine assists. +8
- Russ was clutch – notably with a game-tying three late in overtime that set up Reaves’ game-winner.
- Russ was clever – choosing to bait defenders and kick the ball out to the open Reaves for the final shot.
With an all-around substantial performance in a momentous win, Westbrook gained that ounce of confidence from the fans — enough to shake some trade rumors off Westbrook’s back potentially. Or at least for a day or two.
But the star of the night was undoubtedly rookie scoring guard Austin Reaves: hitting five of six 3-pointers (15 points), including the game-winning shot with 0.9 seconds left in OT.
The undrafted, 6-foot-5 player out of Wichita State has turned himself into the fan base’s latest favorite young prospect. Last season it was THT; this year it’s Reaves, and with the opportunity to play, the rook has flourished.
— NBA (@NBA) December 16, 2021
Minutes were available for Reaves tonight as Talen Horton-Tucker, Dwight Howard and Malik Monk were inactive due to health and safety protocols. As COVID makes its rounds, Frank Vogel and the coaching staff may continue to tinker with the lineup and include more Reaves to fill in the voids. He ended the night with 32 minutes.
With the Clippers losing to the Utah Jazz, the Lakers (16-13) now match their in-town rivals for the fifth seed in the Western Conference.
As the Lakers create a bit of distance between themselves and the .500 mark, the team will need to stay diligent as they remain short of help and with Anthony Davis still a level below the premium AD once spotted in Los Angeles.
The Lakers will face off against Minnesota on Friday to potentially extend their win streak to four and leapfrog the Clippers.
Dallas drops to .500 (14-14) without expectation to see Doncic for the rest of this week.