Austin Reaves #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against the Denver Nuggets defense during the game at Ball Arena on April 10, 2022 in Denver, Colorado.
Austin Reaves #15 of the Los Angeles Lakers drives against the Denver Nuggets defense during the game at Ball Arena on April 10, 2022 in Denver, Colorado.
Jamie Schwaberow

Austin Reaves Riles up Lakers for Overtime Win Against Denver

by Taylor Geas

A rookie no more —

Undrafted Austin Reaves (31 pts, 16 reb, 10 ast) joined the Lakers this 2021-22 season, and in their final game of the season, he proved yet again why he deserves to be here as he galvanized his team to a 146-141 overtime win against the Nuggets. And the proof went way beyond going 14/14 from the charity stripe.

This wasn’t the season the Lakers or Lakers fans had hoped for, but as Reaves walked off the floor tonight, he reminded everyone of what the game is about. “That’s why we play this game is joy,” he said in his walk-off interview. This was a great note to close this one out on. It feels like a hard chapter had a gracious ending.

Game 82 had a young-looking start and the young guns put on a Lake Show for the season finale. Reaves notched a double-double by halftime with 10 points and 10 rebounds. But more impressive, he finished the game with a triple-double and joined the elite list of Elgin Baylor, Jerry West, Magic Johnson, and Lonzo Ball for Lakers rookies to hit a triple-double during their first year in the league. And most impressive, Austin is the first undrafted rookie in NBA history to drop a triple-double. He is the list.

This high-scoring game stayed close throughout until Denver started to pull away. The Nuggets had the game by 9 points with just about a minute left in regulation. The

Lakers refused to relinquish their grip and pulled back.

One of South Bay Lakers’ finest and the 2021-22 Kia NBA G League Rookie of the Year, Mac McClung, was signed to a two-way contract and made an appearance in tonight’s contest. And thank god he did because when the Lakers were down in the final moments, Mac made a four-point play.

At this point, the Lakers needed two to tie it up. And who do you think made a steal on their defensive end, took it coast to coast with two behind-the-backs, and forced overtime?

Austin Reaves. That’s who.

Yes, the Arkansas Boys were feeling it tonight. Malik Monk (41 pts) was another. Twice Austin ooped it up for Malik, and Malik slammed it right back down. He had a slam dunk in each quarter. MM was a crack of lightning charging wherever he touched the floor. He went 50% from the arc and led his team in points.

Now, that’s a wrap on the 2021-22 season. Where things didn’t pan out as planned, this final game ignited a sense of urgency for everyone to hang onto until October.

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