Most of the discussion about the Los Angeles Lakers this season has centered around the “Big Three” of LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook.
However, it was a rookie that played the role of hero on Wednesday night against the Dallas Mavericks.
Former Oklahoma guard Austin Reaves drained a three-pointer with 0.9 seconds remaining in overtime to lift Los Angeles to a 107-104 victory in Dallas on Wednesday. The Lakers picked up their third win in a row thanks to the rookie’s late game heroics and improved to 16-13 on the season.
Tied at 104-104 on the final possession of overtime, LeBron James took control of the Lakers offense. After drawing a double team, James dumped the ball to Wayne Ellington, who in turn dropped it into the corner for Russell Westbrook.
Westbrook drove hard to the middle, drawing the attention of the Mavericks defense, before shooting a pass to the opposite wing for Reaves. The rookie rose up and drilled the game-winner, through contact, sending the entire Lakers team into a frenzy.
AUSTIN REAVES FOR THE WIN!!! 🎯 #LAKESHOW
— Sports Illustrated (@SInow) December 16, 2021
The final few minutes of regulation and the entire overtime period were a battle between the Lakers and the Mavericks, so the intensity of the ending matched the back-and-forth nature of the game. However, few expected Reaves to be the difference-maker with the game on the line.
The 23-year-old, undrafted agent scrapped his way onto the Lakers top roster earlier this season and has since turned into a reliable rotation player. Head coach Frank Vogel trusted the rookie to play 32 minutes on Wednesday night, which included most of crunch-time, and Reaves repaid the favor by scoring 15 points on 5-of-6 shooting from beyond the arc.
After the rookie delivered the Lakers the win, social media erupted with reactions to the wild finish.
AUSTIN. TYLER. REAVES.
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) December 16, 2021
— Pau Gasol (@paugasol) December 16, 2021
So glad I purchased that Austin Reaves jersey this week. Made tonight extra special. #Lakeshow
— Colin Cowherd (@ColinCowherd) December 16, 2021
AUSTIN REAVES WINS IT AT THE DEATH FOR LA pic.twitter.com/Ph9nZPNR1B
— Rob Perez (@WorldWideWob) December 16, 2021
Austin Reaves vs the Mavs pic.twitter.com/i8L5kcT2oS
— Josiah Johnson (@KingJosiah54) December 16, 2021
Austin Reaves is the chosen one.
— KENNY BEECHAM (@KOT4Q) December 16, 2021
AUSTIN REAVES HITS THE GAME-WINNER FOR THE LAKERS AGAINST THE MAVS pic.twitter.com/DgeHccQBQ6
— SportsCenter (@SportsCenter) December 16, 2021
Reaves and the Lakers will look to keep the momentum rolling on the road against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Friday.