With many people discussing the officiating, LeBron James giving a stellar performance and Anthony Davis being the defensive juggernaut in the Lakers' victory against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday, it would be easy to forget that Austin Reaves played a key role in the win.
However, without Reaves' fourth-quarter performance, the Lakers are likely watching the In-Season Tournament semis instead of playing in it.
Austin Reaves was mic'd up on his CLUTCH THREE ️ pic.twitter.com/yyFLKUbCpT— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) December 6, 2023
With the game on the line, Reaves found the ball in his hands and it was James setting screens and moving out of the way so he could go to work. Reaves rewarded that trust by knocking down the game-winning 3-pointer with 15.1 seconds left, ultimately punching the Lakers ticket to Las Vegas.
The play brought out passion and enthusiasm from Reaves as he stood on the wing, flexed, and belted out a Tarzan-esque yell, which was well-recorded since he was mic'd up for the game.
Postgame, Darvin Ham didn't hesitate to acknowledge how well Reaves has played for the Lakers throughout his career.
"Austin is a big-time player," Ham said. "It's the reason we wanted him here, for the present and the future. Everybody saw what he did to finish the year last year, what he did for Team USA. He's just grown and grown and grown. He thrives on those moments, those big moments where it's getting a big stop, making a pass, making a big shot, drawing fouls at key moments. He's just a big-time player flat out. And he saved us a little bit tonight."
Through 22 games, Reaves has gone through so many ups and downs. From being crowned a starter on opening day to being benched and returning to form as a sixth man and, more importantly, a closer for the purple and gold.
He is still him and thanks to the NBA creating the In-Season Tournament, we get to see high-stakes games in December and are reminded why Reaves is so well regarded amongst the Lakers organization. He's not only fearless enough to take high-pressure shots, he's skilled enough to make them.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.