‘I knew Austin would be that’: LeBron James says he knew Austin Reaves would go to a massive Lakers part after first practice
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-field advantage from the Grizzlies with a 128-112 victory.
After the game, LeBron James had this to say about Reaves’ sizzling night, which had not been previously announced:
“I’m not surprised. I knew from the first practice we had that he wasn’t going to be a two-way player for long. … I’ve been around the game long enough to know great IQ basketball players and I know the type of players that fit my game and I knew Austin (Reaves) would be that one right away.
“I have to give a lot of credit to Coach Vogel for just throwing him into the fire and letting him learn as he goes and allowing him to make mistakes and letting him play a lot of things. …It’s not surprising what he’s doing tonight. … I am extremely happy for him.”
Austin Reaves was an undrafted rookie in the 2021 draft. 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 season, the former Oklahoma standout showed glimpses of what he could do. He was toasted by the Laker Nation on December 15 when he dropped a game-winning 3-pointer against the Dallas Mavericks.
Before the Lakers ended their embarrassing 2022 season, Austin Reaves reminded basketball fans that there was more to come. He completed the first triple-double of his career in Los Angeles’ 146-141 overtime win over the Denver Nuggets.
Reaves had 31 points, 16 rebounds and a career-high 10 assists.
Also read: Watch: LA Lakers locker room gives rookie Austin Reaves a hero’s welcome after winning overtime against Dallas Mavericks
Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura were the heroes in the LA Lakers’ pivotal 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 made 11-14 field goal attempts, including 5-6 from behind the arc.
Hachimura’s 21 points, missing just one of nine shots in the second half, were crucial. His four 3-pointers in the third quarter kept the Grizzlies at bay and plagued them defensively.
In his last four games, all crucial for the Lakers, Rui Hachimura has averaged 16.0 points, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 assists. He is shooting 54.5% of his shots, including 44.4% from behind the arc.
Austin Reaves, for his part, made several key baskets in the final minutes of the game. He scored nine straight points to stifle the Memphis Grizzlies’ desperate drive to tie and potentially win the game.
Reaves is no longer unknown. He yelled “I’m him” to the boisterous, hostile crowd after scoring on a faded jump shot.
Also read: Austin Reaves was speechless after receiving massive appreciation from LeBron James: ‘Things like that mean a lot to me’