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Austin Reaves putback lifts Summer League Lakers over Suns in Las Vegas opener

Two-way rookie Austin Reaves cemented himself in summer league lore with a putback to seal a win in the Lakers’ Las Vegas Summer League opener

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2021 Las Vegas Summer League - Los Angeles Lakers v Phoenix Suns Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

Two-way rookie Austin Reaves was the hero for the Summer League Lakers as the purple and gold wrapped up the first day of action in Las Vegas with a 73-72 victory over the Phoenix Suns thanks to Reaves’ putback bank shot after Vic Law’s three-point attempt rimmed out.

Reaves finished with 11 points, 4 rebounds and 1 assist as well one of the Lakers’ most memorable late-game summer league moments since D’Angelo Russell’s icy veins in 2016.

The Lakers got off to a fast start thanks to some quality play on both ends from Reaves as the recent two-way signee made his presence felt early once again with a quick five points. As Nicole Ganglani pointed out in our Vegas Summer League preview, Reaves’ defense and shot creation were key aspects of his time at the University of Oklahoma, but his scoring has also been consistent over his first three professional games.

Though the Lakers led for much of the first half, the Suns turned things around in the third quarter thanks to some stellar play from Jalen Smith, a former lottery pick. Smith, who the Suns selected No. 10 overall in the 2020 draft, finished with a 15-point, 12-rebound double-double.

Summer League veteran DeVontae Cacok also had a fantastic all-around performance, finishing with a team-high 13 points. Cacok also had seven rebounds, three assists and three steals. His ferocious on-ball defense and active hands caused problems for Phoenix all game, especially in crunch time as he played a huge role in holding the Suns to just one point over their final six possessions.

To the delight of Lakers fans in the building, Mac McClung continued his crusade to become a fan favorite by hustling for every loose ball he saw and fearlessly driving into the paint. After a rough shooting start, McClung hit two jumpers with less than a minute to go to tie the game at 71. The Texas Tech product finished with 10 points and 4 rebounds.

Several more familiar faces from both franchises were in attendance. Frank Vogel and much of his coaching staff, including Phil Handy, Mike Penberthy and the recently hired David Fizdale showed up for the Lakers, as did Talen Horton-Tucker. On the Suns’ side, Chris Paul, Cameron Payne, Mikal Bridges and newly crowned gold medalist Devin Booker showed up to support their young teammates, as did Suns president of basketball operations and longtime LeBron James friend James Jones.

The Lakers will be back in action in Vegas on Wednesday against the Knicks.

For more Lakers talk, subscribe to the Silver Screen and Roll podcast feed on iTunes, Spotify, Stitcher or Google Podcasts. You can follow Austin on Twitter at @AustinGreen44.

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