On Dec. 9, the Los Angeles Lakers played their fifth game of a six-game road trip against Joel Embiid and the Philadelphia 76ers. It was an opportunity for them to prove they were better than their 10-14 record indicated.
They fell behind 33-20 early in the second quarter, but that’s when Austin Reaves started to turn it on. He scored 12 points on 5-of-6 shooting in the period as Los Angeles pulled to within 61-59 at halftime.
After the Lakers again fell behind by double-digits in the final minutes of the fourth quarter, they mounted one final furious rally. During that spurt, Reaves hit a big 3-pointer with 12 seconds left, then added two free throws to allow them to somehow force overtime.
They eventually fell 133-122, but Reaves finished with a season-high 25 points on 9-of-15 shooting and 4-of-6 from downtown, plus five assists and two steals.
It was the first sign that he had gone beyond being a mere role player and was becoming a true difference-maker.
Story originally appeared on LeBron Wire