On Wednesday, the Los Angeles Lakers will look to stay out of the loss column in the Las Vegas Summer League, this time taking on the New York Knicks. They will be coming off an exciting, down-to-the-wire opening win on Sunday as two-way rookie Austin Reaves made a miraculous shot off an offensive rebound that put the Lakers ahead of the Suns 73-72 with 2.5 seconds left.
Another win on Wednesday will only strengthen the team’s chances at playing in the Las Vegas Summer League championship. For the Lakers to return to the same championship that Kyle Kuzma, Lonzo Ball, and Alex Caruso won in 2017, they will have to finish with one of the top two best records in the league after every team plays four games.
Austin Reaves, Mac McClung face tough, NBA-level competition
If you’re looking for the fan favorites so far from this Lakers Summer League roster, look no further than the two gentlemen above in Reaves and Mac McClung. The two appeared to do their best Michael Jordan-Scottie Pippen “Flu Game” impression after Reaves’ heroics, causing Lakers Twitter to lose their minds on Sunday night.
Their popularity is much more than the memes even if they appear to be a couple of guys from your accounting department shooting hoops. No, the two deserve this acclaim they’re getting as they’re playing well for head coach Quinton Crawford. Austin Reaves has been especially impressive, averaging 9.6 points, 5.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in the Lakers’ first three Summer League games.
However, Reaves, McClung and the team’s starting point guard Joel Ayayi will be in for some daunting individual tasks on the defensive end against the Knicks’ Immanuel Quickley. Although the Lakers have already played a couple of players who will be going into the second year of their NBA careers (Sacramento’s Robert Woodard II and the Phoniex’s Jalen Smith to name a couple), none of those sophomores they’ve faced compare to the skillset that Quickley will bring to the court as a dynamic scorer. He did struggle in the Knicks’ opening game loss on Sunday, only making five of his 17 field-goal attempts while also leading his team in turnovers but bounced back in Monday’s win over Indiana with a huge 32-point performance.
He won’t be the only note-worthy name you’ll see on the Knicks’ roster as the Lakers will have to look out for the high-flying Obi Toppin and Jericho Sims. We all know Toppin from being the eighth overall pick of the 2020 NBA Draft with the 2021’s 58th overall pick Sims making a name for himself right away in their opening game with an insane dunk
Sims made all six of his field-goal attempts in the game for 12 points while Toppin led the team in scoring with 24 points (10-of-21 from the field) in the opener then nearly matched that with 22 points against Indiana.
The Lakers will hopefully avoid having to come back in this one. They’ve won their past two games, but that was despite the team playing from behind late in the games. They started the 4th quarter of their final California Classic game against the Heat down 57-51 only to win 84-74 while they were down 55-45 with 1:07 left in the 3rd quarter against the Suns before Reaves game-winner.
Crawford doesn’t seem to mind, however. In fact, he spotlighted the resilience that Reaves and the other Lakers have shown so far. Here’s what he had to say about the team’s clutch play following their win against the Suns on Sunday:
“What I saw is a team that’s resilient,” Crawford said. “Being down for the second game in a row, double digits going into that 4th quarter. That’s a resilient team. They didn’t splinter. They came together. I always say “When the game gets tougher, we have to get tougher” and that’s what they did.”
The Lakers will tip-off against the Knicks at 7:00 p.m. PT on Wednesday night. The game will be televised on ESPN2.