After struggling through the first half of the 2022-23 season, the Los Angeles Lakers found themselves reborn after multiple midseason trades. They powered their way through late February, March and April, and they carried that momentum into the playoffs by advancing to the Western Conference Finals.
Austin Reaves was a big reason for the Lakers’ unexpected postseason run, and if they were to have any chance of defeating the Denver Nuggets in the conference finals, he would have to continue his excellent play.
In the first half of Game 1, L.A. got outrebounded by an embarrassing margin and fell behind 72-54 at halftime as Reaves shot 2-of-7. But he got going in the second half, and not coincidentally, the Lakers made a furious run.
He scored seven points in the third quarter as they started to trim their deficit, and in the final period, he put up 11 points by hitting 3-of-4 from 3-point range. The third of those treys got his team to within three points with 2:18 left.
Reaves finished with 23 points and eight assists for the game. While the Lakers lost, 132-126, it wasn’t his fault, as LeBron James missed two 3-pointers and committed a turnover in the final minute.
Rather, the Lakers had a chance to win in the first place because of the undrafted guard’s exploits.