Austin Reaves has a clutch performance late for Lakers in loss to Warriors

Lakers guard Austin Reaves challenges a shot by Warriors forward Otto Porter Jr.
Lakers guard Austin Reaves challenges a shot by Warriors forward Otto Porter Jr. during the second half Saturday.
(John Hefti / Associated Press)

Back and forth the Lakers and Golden State Warriors went during the tense fourth quarter Saturday night in San Francisco, each play more meaningful than the previous, seemingly every moment a defining one, and in the middle of it all was rookie guard Austin Reaves.

Reaves did not shy away from the assignment during the the fourth quarter, when he played all 12 minutes. He played with a purpose and drive, displaying a willingness to do whatever it took for the Lakers.

The Lakers were not able to ride his play enough during their last-second, 117-115 loss to the Warriors, but it was not the fault of Reaves.


He was at his best in the fourth, scoring six points by making both of his shots and both of his free throws, and he dished out an important assist. He blocked two shots in the quarter, hustling on defense all over the Chase Center court.

“He’s a solid all-around player and he was very impressive down the stretch,” coach Frank Vogel said. “Making big plays offensively. He’s got a great computer to process help and see whether if he’s going to shoot or whether he’s going to make the extra pass and obviously he’s got a lot of guts to make big shots. And he really competes on the defensive end and has a good IQ down on that end. And he had a hell of a night.”

Reaves began the fourth chasing down Klay Thompson and blocking his shot at the rim.

In a 117-115 loss at Golden State, Lakers star LeBron James passes the mark for most points in NBA history in the regular season and playoffs combined.

Feb. 12, 2022

Later in the fourth, Reaves drove past Jordan Poole, got into the lane and went by center Kevon Looney to score on a layup, giving the Lakers a five-point lead that forced the Warriors to call a timeout.

As he walked to the Lakers’ bench, Russell Westbrook tapped Reaves on the head, a clear sign of respect for what the rookie was doing.

“He did a good job of being solid,” Westbrook said. “Just his ability to make the right plays. Tonight, he did a good job of that on both ends. His energy was high. If he continues to do that, he’s going to be a great player in this league for a long time.”

The Lakers’ lead had dipped to two points late in the fourth when Reaves provided help defense on Looney, who had rolled his 6-foot-9, 222-pound body to the rim. The 6-5, 197-pound Reaves contested the shot but was called for a foul. The call, however, was overturned after the Lakers challenged it.


That led to a jump ball with 4 minutes and 49 seconds left.

After the Lakers won the jump ball, Reaves found Westbrook down low for a basket. Seconds later, Reaves scored on a layup, giving the Lakers a 109-103 lead that wouldn’t last.

When the Lakers got down by one later in the fourth, Reaves stepped up again. He cut to the basket and was fouled. Reaves made both free throws to give the Lakers a 113-112 lead with 1:54 remaining.

The Lakers still wound up losing, but Reaves had made an impression — again.

He finished the game making all five of his shots for 13 points. He finished with three rebounds, two assists and two blocks.

“Nothing has impressed me anymore on Austin,” LeBron James said. “I mean, he’s been doing it all year when he’s had the opportunity. The kid has hit a game-winner this year. He’s made big plays over and over offensively and defensively.

“So, nothing has surprised me. Obviously, like I said, he’s a young kid so he’s going to make mistakes but the way he plays, as hard as he plays, you can live with that. So, I’m not surprised by anything that he does on the floor anymore.”