After a pair of disappointing losses, the Lakers found themselves back in the win column beating the Orlando Magic 111-105 on Sunday night.
With the Lakers needing a win to wash out the bad taste left in their mouths from their letdown against Dallas, it was the bench players who stepped up and helped secure the victory.
Austin Reaves, who arguably had his best game of his young career, continues to grow up before our very eyes. No longer just a “role player” who “makes the right play,” Reaves is straight up producing when given the opportunity. As the nominal lead ball-hander while D’Angelo Russell sat, and even when he was on the floor, Reaves was sensational, ending the night with 35 points, six assists and was a team-high +25.
Dennis Schröder also continues to adjust well as part of the second unit as he chipped in 12 points and five assists off the bench.
New career high https://t.co/xJchZ2rWVD— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) March 20, 2023
Things weren’t smooth sailing the entire game for the Lakers. They had trouble out of the gates containing Orlando’s 3-point shooting and front court size, a trend for the team all season. This put them in a nine-point hole early on, but thanks to the bench duo of Reaves and Schröder, they closed the first quarter on a 17-7 run to take back control of the game.
After their early fumbles, the floodgates were wide open for L.A. in the second quarter as Reaves caused havoc in his drive and kick game. The team’s shooters also bounced back in a big way with D’Angelo Russell and Troy Brown capitalizing on their open looks, helping balloon the lead to ten heading into the half.
Austin the Magician pic.twitter.com/fH0vZSQaeU— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) March 20, 2023
The Lakers’ offense didn't stay hot coming out of the locker room however, as the Magic chipped away at the once double-digit lead and trailed by just three heading into the fourth.
One name I have yet to mention is Anthony Davis. His first half was mediocre outside of his typical strong work on the defensive end and glass, and his second half was more of the same. He did have a nice dunk that was part of a Laker run but other than that he was pedestrian tonight.
But thankfully tonight wouldn’t be Orlando’s eighth fourth quarter comeback win of the season.
They did keep it competitive and tied the game after a Cole Anthony three with under two minutes to go, but Reaves dominated down the stretch en route to a career high in points.
The Lakers now move their focus toward their matchup with the Phoenix Suns on Wednesday.
Yes, the Suns will be without Kevin Durant, but they are still a dangerous team and the Lakers will likely need a bigger game from Davis if they want to start a new winning streak heading into the final ten games of the season.
You can follow Edwin on Twitter at @ECreates88.