Thursday, July 25, 2024
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Lakers’ guard trio carries offensive load in defeat of Suns

When the Lakers called a timeout with 52 seconds left, D’Angelo Russell and Austin Reaves sought out each other and slapped hands three times, bending over at the end of the last one while adding a little twist of the wrist.

They then smiled and walked off the Arena court. Their work had been done in a very big way.

The Lakers guard core of Russell, Reaves and Malik Beasley had been the impetus behind a 121-107 victory over the Phoenix Suns on Friday night by combining for 67 points and 10 assists.

And now Russell and Reaves were having a little fun together.

“Naw, we were messing around when we were in Chicago and we did that,” Reaves said. “But, naw, we were just having fun with it.”

Russell led the way for the Lakers with 24 points on nine-for-14 shooting, six-for-nine from three-point range, and he had three assists.

Reaves had 22 points on nine-for-13 shooting from the field and five assists.

Beasley had 21 points off the bench on seven-for-14 shooting.

On a night when the Lakers’ top two stars, LeBron James (16 points and six assists) and Anthony Davis (14 points and 21 rebounds), were not as proficient or their normally productive selves, Russell, Reaves and Beasley filled the void.

“I mean, throughout the game, you feel what the game needs and obviously they carry us so much throughout the year that you want to step up for them when they are not struggling, but having one of those nights,” Reaves said. “You kind of just feel out the game and D’Lo and Beasley played really well and I contributed how I contributed.”

James was six-for-19 from the field and had five turnovers. Davis was four-for-12 shooting.

So, for Russell, Reaves and Beasley to carry the load for the Lakers was big.

I mean, there’s nobody that they really can just key on,” James said. “You can’t just key on AD, you can’t just key on me. When you have Beas shooting the way he was shooting the ball, when you got D-Lo shooting the ball at a high way, you got AR [Austin Reaves], who has been playing exceptional all season, it just keeps the defense always at bay.”

Beasley made four of 10 from three-point range. He also ran the court and scored on a dunk off a lob pass from Reaves.

“It feels good,” Beasley said about making shots. “The rim looks bigger. I can shoot the ball with more confidence and hopefully get the ball more because it’s going in. So, it felt good to get out and play a little bit more tonight and take advantage of the opportunity.”

As the game was winding down and the Lakers were trying to seal the victory, Russell took over.

He made a three-pointer for a 12-point Lakers lead. He hit another three-pointer for a 13-point lead. He made his third straight three-pointer for a 16-point lead.

That sealed the game and it showed the value of Russell, Reaves and Beasley to the Lakers when James and Davis are not at their best offensively.

“It was huge,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said. “It’s huge for those guys to be able to carry the load and make some shots and have their own different segments during the game. Huge, man.

“The more pressure we can take off Bron and AD to have to go out and save the day or make every play, the better. When they can just play manageable minutes and those other guys step up and play well, it just makes us that much more dangerous. And it saves some gas for our two big dogs.”

This story originally appeared on LA Times

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