Los Angeles was without several key players in the game, as LeBron James, Anthony Davis and D’Angelo Russell were all out of the lineup due to injury.
However, the Lakers rode a 33-point third quarter to a win, moving them ahead of the Portland Trail Blazers in the Western Conference standings.
“Tonight we took a big step chemistry wise,” said Austin Reaves, with LAL forced to figure things out on the fly without LeBron, AD and Russell on the floor.
Reaves stepped up with 19 points and 4 assists on 5 of 5 FG’s, and was 8 for 8 at the line before missing his last.
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 2, 2023
Reaves was one of several players who stepped up for Los Angeles on Wednesday night. The young guard scored 19 points, and he was joined by Troy Brown Jr. (19 points), Mo Bamba (12 points), Dennis Schroder (26 points), Malik Beasley (11 points) and Lonnie Walker IV (13 points) as Lakers who scored in double figures against Oklahoma City.
It was a complete team effort for Los Angeles, and the team is already reaping the benefits of having a deeper bench since making moves at the trade deadline.
The Lakers added Rui Hachimura, Beasley, Jarred Vanderbilt, Bamba and Russell at the deadline, giving them more shooting and rotation-caliber players on the roster.
That came up big on Wednesday, as the Lakers usually struggle in games where Davis and James can’t play. This season, Los Angeles is 6-10 in the 16 games that James has missed and just 12-13 in the games that Davis has missed.
It’s great to see Los Angeles building chemistry with so many new faces on the team, and that should benefit the team if it is able to make a playoff run this season.
The win moved the Lakers into the No. 11 spot in the Western Conference, and they are just a game behind the New Orleans Pelicans for the final spot in the play-in tournament.
Los Angeles is going to have to weather the storm with James out, but the Lakers are still in the conversation for the No. 6 spot in the West, just 2.5 games back of the Los Angeles Clippers.
The Lakers are certainly hoping that Davis will be able to return to the lineup for Friday’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves. Still, the bench has shown it can come up with a big win when called upon.