Austin Reaves delivered a standout performance, scoring a season-best 32 points and sinking a record seven 3-point shots, propelling the Los Angles Lakers to a shocking 114-105 victory over the Boston Celtics during Thursday’s NBA action, despite the absence of LeBron James and Anthony Davis.
James had been vocal for weeks about the need for the Lakers role players to step up and support him and fellow All-Star Anthony Davis as they navigate the Western Conference playoff battle challenges. With James and Davis sidelined in a surprising turn of events, the Lakers’ secondary lineup rose to the occasion.
Reaves highlighted the team’s collective talent, emphasizing their determination to showcase their abilities on a grand stage.
“We’re all talented players. And this was an opportunity to show the world what you can do,” Reaves said. “Before the game we come to together and was like, ‘Look, the least we can do is we can do is go out there and play as hard as we can and live with the results.”
The matchup lost some of its luster with James out due to a left ankle injury and Davis sidelined by an Achilles tendon and left hip issues. However, the Lakers’ younger players didn’t let the prospect of facing the NBA-leading Celtics without their key players deter them.
Reaves, in particular, shone brightly, converting 7 of 10 attempts from three-point range and capitalizing on free throws from one of the missed attempts. The Lakers’ efficiency from beyond the arc, hitting 19 out of 36 attempts, was crucial in overcoming the Celtics and snapping a two-game skid.
D’Angelo Russell contributed significantly with 16 points, 14 assists, and eight rebounds. Jaxson Hayes added 16 points and 10 rebounds to the effort.
Jayson Tatum led the Celtics with 23 points, but turnovers proved costly for Boston, contributing to their third loss in the last five home games after an unbeaten start at TD Garden. Celtics coach Joe Mazzulla acknowledged the team’s rough patch but focused on resilience and response to adversity.
“It just happens. Stretches of bad basketball happen,” Mazzulla said. “We can’t sit here and act like we’re too entitled for it to happen to us. It happens. And it’s a matter of how we respond to it and how we work through it.”
Despite a late push by Boston, the Lakers maintained their lead in the fourth quarter. Jarred Vanderbilt was notable for his 10 points and defensive plays before exiting with foot soreness. The Celtics attempted a comeback with a 12-2 run in the third quarter but couldn’t close the gap sufficiently.
This game marked the first absence of James and Davis in the same match this season, with the Lakers positioned ninth in the Western standings. The duration of their absence remains uncertain. Reaves underscored the straightforward strategy for when the stars return: maintain the high performance and effort demonstrated in their absence.
“If you remember Bron’s quote the other night — ‘Go out and do your job.’ And I feel like that’s just what we did tonight,” Reaves said. “It wasn’t nothing special. It wasn’t like we were out there running a million set plays. We went out there and competed our (butts) off.
“We gave it 110% on the defensive end. We competed. We didn’t foul much,” Reaves continued Just bringing those two back, we need to continue to do the same thing.”
Next, the Lakers face the New York Knicks, while the Celtics host the Memphis Grizzlies in their upcoming games.