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Everton fights hard to frustrate Chelsea

Chelsea miss a chance to lie two points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City as a worn out side from Everton deserve a stellar point. (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaChelsea missed a chance to lie two points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City when a worn out side from Everton took a stellar point at Stamford Bridge. But Everton leveled four minutes later when 19-year-old defender Jarrad Branthwaite converted in his first league game of the season from an Anthony Gordon free-kick at the back post. Thiago Silva had a chance to win for the hosts, but saw his powerful header from Pickford brilliantly fend off. "Jordan Pickford has made some good saves, it's important to have a good goalkeeper," said Everton coach Rafael Benitez. Commenting on Branthwaite's goal, Benitez added: "He's a good player, a young player who has the potential. We've trained set pieces and he's very happy." Chelsea, looking to win the Premier League title for the first time since 2016/17, will wonder how they didn't get the three points in a game with 80% possession and 23 shots. The result puts them in third place, four points behind leaders City, while Everton remains 14th. But Benitez, who returned to Stamford Bridge after a stint as Chelsea coach in 2012-13, is delighted with the efforts and will of his Everton side, who lost 12 players due to injury or illness being. This led Benitez to make a first-team debut for 20-year-old striker Ellis Simms, with Branthwaite only making his second appearance at Everton. Before the game, Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel confirmed that strikers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had tested positive for Covid-19 while another striker, Kai Havertz, was also not in the squad while he was on Game was waiting for the result of the Covid test. Chelsea missed these strikers as they were regularly frustrated by Pickford. Mount and James just missed and the formidable Hakim Ziyech just missed three times. It was similar after the break with Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rüdiger, who missed all chances when the home fans became restless. Mount's goal calmed her nerves, but Everton showed great character and leveled four minutes later with Gordon's free kick that slid Branthwaite out of the depths to snag an equalizer. "We missed opportunities and struggled to find a high rhythm in the second half," said Tuchel. "We didn't have anyone on the bench, we used the last guys we had available and we lack great personalities and qualities." I can't break my head when we play like this in defense, they have no chances to score, but after a free kick. "* Our coverage of your Premier League club is bigger and better than ever - here is everything what you need to know so that you don't miss a moment

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Mason Mount Finish Not Enough As Blues Drop Points

Chelsea lost points again when there was a 1-1 draw against an exhausted Everton at Stamford Bridge. (Author: Gardener)

Mason Mount Finish Not EnoughChelsea lost points again when there was a 1-1 draw against an exhausted Everton at Stamford Bridge. Chelsea lost points again when there was a 1-1 draw against an exhausted Everton at Stamford Bridge. In the first half, the Blues dominated the game in terms of odds and possession, but they couldn't break the impasse. The breakthrough finally came thanks to Mason Mount's finish in the 70th minute. Everton leveled just four minutes later through Jarrad Branthwaite, giving his side a point. Chelsea had possession of the ball for the first few minutes and had their first chance in the sixth minute. Jorginho sent a great through ball to the accruing Reece James, who couldn't quite use it to Jordan Pickford. Moments later, Mount was next to score, but his attempt just missed the far post. Pulisic's shot on goal was easily saved by Pickford after a great run by Ziyech on the left. James had one more chance to score but his free kick was saved by Pickford and Jorginho failed to convert a subsequent rebound. He had one more try after a set piece but was still unable to score when his shot went over the crossbar. Everton's Mason Holgate has been cautioned for a foul on Ziyech, the game's first card. The latter was involved again for Chelsea, but his bold goal game went up and down. James enjoyed a few runs down the right, sending a flat cross into the box that was quickly cleared. His compatriot England then showed a great deal of skill in getting between two defenders, but his later pass went out of the game. Another minute, another chance for Chelsea. Marcos Alonso aimed a large flat flank in the path of Mount, who was unable to defeat Pickford. It was Ziyech's turn to hit goal, but his long-range shot missed the post. Mount had another chance to score, but was again denied by his English teammate. Everton had their first chance of the game in the 43rd minute, Anthony Gordon's shot was safely blocked by Edouard Mendy. A frustrating first half for Chelsea soon came to an end as the Blues failed to score from a multitude of chances. The start of the second half was similar to the first, the Blues held possession and pressed on the defense of Everton. Mount had his team's first chance in the second period of the game when his shot from Pickford went wide. Jonjoe Kenny found himself in space on the right, but his shot for the Toffees flew over Mendy's bar. Azpilicueta soon missed with a standard shot as Tuchel's side continued to challenge the Everton defense. Antonio Rüdiger had a chance to score next, but could not steer his header on goal. It appeared as if Pulisic moved to the left full-back, with Saul playing with Ziyech and Mount up front. Finally, Chelsea scored the 1-0 in the 70th minute! An Everton runaway was reversed when James Mount played into the box, and the latter shot past Pickford. The lead was short-lived, however, when Everton equalized in the 74th minute through Branthwaite. A free kick from the left was not cleared and the Toffees youngster scored. In the last Chelsea move, Trevoh Chalobah replaced Cesar Azpilicueta on the Blues defensive as they looked for a winner in the final phase of the game. Silva and Rüdiger had two chances to regain the lead for Chelsea in quick succession, but Pickford was ready to thwart both. The Blues had more chances to attack, but their progress kept falling apart and a late winner slipped. The referee soon blew on full-time, and Chelsea lost more points from games they should have won.

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Everton fights hard to frustrate Chelsea

Chelsea miss a chance to lie two points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City as a worn out side from Everton deserve a stellar point. (Author: Gardener)

ChelseaChelsea missed a chance to lie two points behind Premier League leaders Manchester City when a worn out side from Everton took a stellar point at Stamford Bridge. But Everton leveled four minutes later when 19-year-old defender Jarrad Branthwaite converted in his first league game of the season from an Anthony Gordon free-kick at the back post. It was a formidable performance for the England international as he also prevented previous attempts by Christian Pulisic, James, Jorginho and three goals from Mount in a goalless result. Chelsea, looking to win the Premier League title for the first time since 2016/17, will wonder how they didn't get the three points in a game with 80% possession and 23 shots. The result puts them in third place, four points behind leaders City, while Everton remains 14th. But Rafael Benitez, who returned to Stamford Bridge after a stint as Chelsea coach in 2012-13, is delighted with the efforts and will of his Everton side, who lost 12 players due to injury or illness have been. This led Benitez to make a first-team debut for 20-year-old striker Ellis Simms, with Branthwaite only making his second appearance at Everton. Before the game, Chelsea coach Thomas Tuchel confirmed that strikers Romelu Lukaku and Timo Werner and winger Callum Hudson-Odoi had tested positive for Covid-19 while another striker, Kai Havertz, was also not in the squad while he was on Game was waiting for the result of the Covid test. Chelsea missed these strikers as they were regularly frustrated by Pickford. Mount and James just missed and the formidable Hakim Ziyech just missed three times. It was similar after the break with Mount, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Cesar Azpilicueta and Antonio Rüdiger, who missed all chances when the home fans became restless. Mount's goal calmed her nerves, but Everton showed great character and leveled four minutes later with Gordon's free kick that slid Branthwaite out of the depths to snag an equalizer. * Our coverage of your Premier League club is bigger and better than ever - everything you need to know is here to make sure you don't miss a moment

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Whoever Arsenal's next captain is, history tells us he won't be much longer

Lacazette is the eleventh Arsenal captain in 16 years after Aubameyang was demoted. How long does it take for the bracelet to change hands again? (Author: Gardener)

LacazetteArsenal beat soaring West Ham United 2-0 on Wednesday to overtake their London rivals and finish fourth in the Premier League as we near halftime of the season. It was the Gunners' second game since coach Mikel Arteta deposed Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang as captain. Aubameyang, who was dropped from the squad for the last two games, was only named captain when Granit Xhaka was relieved of responsibility after a confrontation with fans during a game in the Emirates in November 2019. Alexandre Lacazette wore the armband again against the Hammers and led his team to one of the most convincing performances of the season. When asked if Lacazette will be confirmed as the next Arsenal captain, Arteta said, “Well, he's next in line and he took it as everyone saw it today - with such pride and dedication, and I'm really happy with the way he played. "Even if the Gunners decide to make Lacazette their new captain on a full-time basis, they may look for a new one as they have the 29-year-old's contract which is due to expire in the year That doesn't seem rash to extend summer. But those in the recent history of Arsenal will know that looking for a new player to be named captain goes without saying, heading south as club legend Thierry Henry ahead of the 2005 season / 06 took over the armband from Patrick Vieira after Henry had flirted with Barcelona for over a year, which got a little uncomfortable when the Gunners lost to them in the Champions League final in 2006. A year later Henry cut the cord and left for Camp Nou after scoring just 10 goals for the Gunners during his last injury-related campaign in north London. Gallas inherited the captaincy role of Arsenal for the 2007-08 season but only held him until the following February when his infamous tantrum on the pitch cost him the armband after a game against Birmingham City. Arsenal were five points ahead of the top of the Premier League at the start of the game, but after a late penalty a 2-2 draw for relegation-struggling Birmingham secured themselves, a visibly emotional Gallas sat on the field at the final whistle and stayed there for several minutes. In fairness it has to be said that the midfielder stayed on for three seasons, but the writing was on the wall when his Spanish team-mates played a prank on him by pulling a Barcelona shirt over his head during the 2010 World Cup celebrations. Fabregas returned to his youth club the following year. Van Persie joined the Fabregas captaincy for the 2011/12 season, where he stayed for exactly a year, before moving to fierce rivals Manchester United, with whom he promptly scored tons of goals and won the Premier League title. Vermaelen was the next weak man to pull the armband, despite a relentless bout of injury ending the Belgian defender's tenure after two failed seasons. Arteta stepped into the breach for the 2014-15 season, but succumbed again almost immediately to an injury and made six league starts in his first year as captain and then none at all in his second. He has since returned to run the club but the captaincy continues to cause him problems. The injury witchcraft continued into 2016-17 and 2017-18 when poor old Mertesacker was named captain. The great German defender was limited to just four league starts in his two seasons with the armband but ended up with an FA Cup win before retiring. Koscielny was entrusted with the captaincy of the Gunners in 2018/19, a tumultuous season in which the French international (who had been with the club for nine years) ultimately refused to play before cementing his departure in what is perhaps the most ungrateful way: transfer to Bordeaux, taking off his Arsenal jersey to reveal the colors of his new club underneath. It was also interesting that the "captaincy" of the then manager Unai Emery made up of four other players Aaron Ramsey (who terminated his contract to move to Juventus), Petr Cech (retired to play ice hockey), Mesut Özil ( previously frozen) escape to Turkey) and Xhaka (see below). Xhaka wasn't a popular captain pick in terms of fan support, and they announced this to the Swiss international back in November 2019 after his team lost a 2-0 lead to a 2-2 draw with Crystal Palace. When Xhaka was substituted in the second half, Xhaka reacted poorly, keeping an ear to the hecklers and promptly lost the support of even his most ardent terrace advocates. The midfielder has been on and off the Arsenal team since then, but you never know that he may be fighting for a second attempt as captain after Auba's dramatic fall. On the surface, everything seemed to be going smoothly for Aubameyang when he signed a new three-year deal with Arsenal in September 2020. The goals also soon dried up, because the former Golden Boot winner only scored 15 league goals in 43 minutes since the beginning of the 2020/21 season. Then, just weeks after declaring himself "the coolest captain in the league, maybe the world" in a misguided and inappropriate fit of anger, Aubameyang was too on the edge after a disciplinary violation.

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Lakers beat Mavericks on Austin Reaves' 3-hand in the last second of OT

The undrafted rookie whizzes a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds to go - the only OT basket not made by one of their three All-Stars - to give the Lakers a 107-104 win. (Author: Gardener)

MavericksDALLAS - Who do you trust when time is running out? On a list full of future Hall of Famers, an unlikely answer for the Lakers broke through Wednesday night in overtime: the undrafted rookie Austin Reaves. Russell Westbrook saw him on the sidelines, forgotten by the Dallas Mavericks defense attorneys crawling towards Westbrook and the basket. He passed out to Reaves, who fired a split-second shot before being knocked off the feet by Tim Hardaway, who bowed 0.9 seconds to go and gave the Lakers a 107-104 win. “I thought he fouled me,” said Reaves dryly, “but that doesn't matter. These hard blows gave way to a scrum of victory and water cooler showers as the teammates celebrated the 23-year-old with résumés that put his own in the shade - idiosyncratic physique, but striking above his weight in toughness. He's been called "Hillbilly Kobe" since college - a joking nickname that harks back to his Arkansas roots - but no one in a veteran locker room doubts that Reaves is ready to take on hard blows in big moments. "He's not afraid of the moment," said Big Man All-Star Anthony Davis. That was the unlikely difference in a tight extension of overtime with the gritty Mavericks who drove the Lakers (16-13) to deserve every inch of a win at the American Airlines Center, even without All-World Guard Luka Doncic. Reaves' game winner crowned a night of unforeseen events that happened to pave the way for the Lakers as they improved to 5-1 in overtime games this season. The only reason the Lakers were working overtime in the first place was Wayne Ellington, who nailed a 3-pointer corner, two seconds behind in regulation, to get the score at 93. Hitting three points is Ellington's job description - only it broke a series of five consecutive misconducts by Laker from the deep, including an attempt that Ellington himself blown and embarrassedly wiped his hands on his chest. The final possession of regulation ended in almost the same fruitless way: LeBron James pulled from the deep, but a scramble for a ricochet ended in Ellington's hands. It was the kind of dark game the Lakers could dig up all evening and bring something out of nowhere. It wasn't the nicest night for the star trio of Lakers, who scored 67 points together but all shot below 50%. But small edges like the 12 defensive rebounds for Davis or the almost triple double for Westbrook (23 points, 10 rebounds, nine assists) helped them achieve another tight rebound, their third win in a row. Mavericks first year coach Jason Kidd hugged the Lakers players and staff before the game at their first meeting since he was one of their assistant coaches; After a clue, he attacked them in their vulnerable places. In particular, his strategy of doubling up Davis bore fruit, causing the big man to cough up five ball losses on his return in the first half after missing two games with a sore knee. "They didn't want to let Anthony play," said Vogel. The Lakers also struggled to contain Kristaps Porzingis, who had 23 points, 12 rebounds and two blocked shots as they brutalized the Lakers small ball lineups with James and Carmelo Anthony as the big two. The Mavericks were able to make a 13-0 run in the second quarter, pivoting the 7-foot-3 Latvian (and wiping out a 12-point lead from the Lakers), and Jalen Brunson (25 points, nine Assists) filled with a capable Doncic impression as the Dallas lead orchestrator. With 24 seconds remaining, Westbrook made his first 3-pointer on his fourth try and stuck it in the eye of the Dallas defense who let him shoot. But Maxi Kleber tied the score with his own improbable lift by driving it off the glass from the top of the bow with 15 seconds remaining in TDC. Lakers Weekly Reset: LeBron James Is A Sleeping Giant In More Than One Ways The Defender Who Was Late Against Kleber: Reaves. "It was basically the story of my life: I was always underrated," said Reaves, his hair still dripping from the locker room reception and a big grin on his face. “I didn't go to a big high school so I didn't recruit a lot, but at the end of the day you had to produce on the basketball court. Reaves added, "For me to take that shot, for my teammates to trust me to take this shot is very special." "It feels good to be competing out there." Austin Reaves chats with @LAIreland & Stu Lantz after hitting the game winner in OT vs. pic.twitter.com/5bCoD1GqI7 Point “) and the trust Russell Westbrook has instilled in him all year: pic.twitter.com / VI4Lse5psf "He's a two-way player ... he plays on both sides of the ball at a high level." Frank Vogel praises Austin Reaves' all-round game in defeating the #Mavericks. pic.twitter.com/JSHcOTzn0t "When the game is at stake, it's my job to make the right game." @ russwest44 on the extra pass to find Austin Reaves for the game winner. pic.twitter.com/m0qaVrT2ug He wants to learn, he wants to get better and he's not afraid of the moment. "@ AntDavis23 & @KingJames on Austin Reaves' career night and #Lakers OT victory against Dallas. pic.twitter.com / KA9h5xe8Qh pic.twitter.com/b7v1rrBVt0

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Three Lakers, four Knicks in Logs; Kings fear breakout, postponement, per report

An ongoing list of NBA players in the league's health and safety logs (Author: Gardener)

KnicksThe surge in COVID-19 cases in the NBA has resulted in the league reportedly discussing changes to its health and safety protocols with the National Basketball Players Association. With coach Alvin Gentry and several players in the logs, Adrian Wojnarowski from ESPN said the Sacramento Kings from training planned for Thursday and temporarily closed their training facility. The Kings reportedly fear more players will test positive and Friday's game against the Memphis Grizzlies could be in jeopardy. Should an outbreak occur, Sacramento could find itself in the same situation that the Chicago Bulls found themselves in. The NBA has postponed Chicago's games against the Detroit Pistons and Toronto Raptors (originally scheduled for Tuesday and Thursday) and since December 1, 10 of its players have made health and safety records, as have broadcasters Stacey King and Bill Wennington. King tweeted Wednesday that he tested negative on Tuesday night but still has a high fever and is feeling weak. However, the Brooklyn Nets only had eight active players - the league minimum for a game - when they hosted the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. Seven Nets players are on the logs, and Brooklyn announced Thursday that it had signed Langston Galloway to a 10-day deal with a hardship exception. (The Shorthanded Bulls used hardship exceptions to sign Alfonzo McKinnie and Stanley Johnson, the latter of whom were filed health and safety logs prior to his first game.) Five Charlotte Hornets players were recently on health and safety logs but all have since been cleared. Players who are not fully vaccinated are required to submit health and safety records if they are found to be a close contact with a person who tests positive. Starting Friday, players who haven't received a booster shot will be subject to stricter restrictions, including game day testing. If a player tests positive for COVID-19, they must isolate immediately until 10 days have passed after this test or symptoms appear, or until two PCR tests 24 hours apart test negative. Also in health and safety logs: Indiana Pacers trainer Rick Carlisle and Toronto's President Masai Ujiri. The Raptors announced on Wednesday that they will play home games against the Golden State Warriors with 50 percent utilization from Saturday. Players who recently released health and safety logs include LaMelo Ball of the Hornets, Dillon Brooks of the Memphis Grizzlies, Kyle Kuzma of the Washington Wizards, Josh Richardson of the Boston Celtics, Justin Holiday of the Indiana Pacers, and Austin Rivers from the Denver Nuggets. Here is a team-by-team list of players in health and safety logs, along with the date they signed up: * Precious Achiuwa (no longer due to NBA health and safety logs as of December 12th, but as per Toronto Public Health Guidelines, he must isolate himself as close contact with someone who tests positive; could be Saturday vs.

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Put Austin Reaves on the Lakers grid, you cowards

If you saw the Lakers for the first time this season last night, you might think Austin Reaves was Larry Bird's second coming. (Author: Gardener)

Put Austin ReavesIf you saw the Lakers for the first time this season last night, you'd think Austin Reaves was Larry Bird's second coming. Reaves has already drawn comparisons to former Lakers fan favorite Alex Caruso for reasons beyond superficial observations of her looks. Both were undrafted players who started out on two-way contracts that pierced the rotation - and the hearts of those who support Purple and Gold. When I met with Caruso last month, he told me he thought Reaves was the kind of glue that winning teams need. Caruso also said he felt the former Oklahoma star was more advanced than he was in his freshman year in the league. Caruso started just 19 games during his tenure with Los Angeles. Especially after his game on Wednesday night when he was 5 to 6 from beyond the arc with a game-winning 3-pointer, it's time the Lakers gave Reaves a shot in the first session. You've probably already seen the highlight on SportsCenter or on your Twitter timeline because if the Lakers do something good, they are sure to dominate the sports media. I placed him 37th overall on my last NBA draft bigboard here on For The Win in 2021. Reaves was in my fourth tier, which was the tier of players I thought might find their way into an NBA rotation. As I wrote at the time, I felt that these were the players who could stay in the league "regardless of their draft position," and the only player I ranked ahead of him in that class was Herbert Jones - who was selected as No. 35 overall and has started 18 of the 27 games he has played for the Pelicans. The most impressive element of his game, in my opinion, was that he was an unreal gunshot creator. As a senior, only 10.2% of his shots were supported on the edge and he had a unique ability to hit the rebound. When I asked him why so many of his jumpers were out of dribbling, which is more difficult than shooting from the muzzle, he explained that the defense took him four or five feet over the arch because he was the focus of the offense. After the pass, he had to put the ball on the ground. Reaves was not signed but did sign a two-way deal with the Lakers that was later turned into a fully guaranteed deal. Unlike he played during his time in Oklahoma, each of his 3-pointers came from an assist. According to Synergy, he finishes more than 40.0% of his ownership as a spot-up guy for the Lakers. It's closer to the role he played at Wichita State - it only took him one dribble to get 21 points. But it's not an unfamiliar or uncomfortable role, as he explained to me (via HoopsHype): “I can involve others and do open shots and make players for others. He has a knack for not complicating the game, which has enabled him to score 1.14 points per possession. That's in the 91st percentile of all NBA players, according to Synergy. This is something you absolutely need when sharing the word with offensive juggernauts like LeBron James, Anthony Davis, and Russell Westbrook. His assist-to-usage ratio (the measure of how "pass-first" a player is) is above average for someone playing his position, and also higher than that of Kent Bazemore, Avery Bradley and Wayne Ellington. This means he doesn't need the ball in his hands to have an effect - he can play for others without the offense going through him. Check out one of my favorite templates Reaves picked up this year and you'll see the rookie take the ball on the floor, pass it to LeBron, show up in the corner, receive the ball, pump the fake, to the basket drives, then fires a weak shot - side pass to Carmelo Anthony for a 3-pointer. Reaves averages 0.39 secondary assists per assist, according to PBP stats, the second most common among the 280+ players who have made at least 300 passes so far this season. Most surprisingly, based at least on my assessment of his pre-draft game, his effectiveness on the defensive end of the floor is. There's a reason LeBron James specifically said to Frank Vogel that Reaves didn't need any help to double up Shai Gilgeous-Alexander of Oklahoma City, according to Mirin Fader. When the Lakers took on the Trail Blazers on November 6, he was defending CJ McCollum for approximately 7 possessions. It wasn't just a random, cold night of McCollum's shooting as Reaves actually defended him really well. Watch him follow McCollum down the perimeter, then down the baseline, and then past an off-ball screen by Cody Zeller. It remains draped on McCollum to force a contested jumper out of dribbling. Opponents are only 13 to 53 (24.5%) if they ricochet Reaves so far this season, according to Synergy. He only allows 0.57 points per possession for these looks, which is better than all but one player in the 200+ who defended at least 50 jumpers from dribbling. When his team took on the Hornets on November 8, Reaves took on the LaMelo Ball assignment for a little over 18 ball possession. During that time, the reigning Rookie of the Year was 2-for-7 (28.6%) out of the field and 1-for-4 (25.0%) with 3-pointers. By getting up in his grill, Reaves also forced poor pass sales against Ball, which you can see below: While he doesn't force a lot of sales, basic counting stats like steals aren't as important as points are allowed. The Lakers allow 100.6 points per 100 possessions when Reaves is on the ground, but 110.9 points per 100 when he isn't, according to PBPStats. While this 10-point swing is due in part to the fact that Reaves often face second units, this is a significant number to watch over the season. His score on FiveThirtyEight's RAPTOR catch-all metric suggests Reaves has been the second-best rookie (after Cleveland's Evan Mobley) in defensive play this season. I think it's time to see what happens when Reaves starts. He's the right mix of a low stakes playmaker who hits his jumpers and plays hard on defense.

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Can Austin Reaves' underdog energy inspire the Lakers?

After an overtime win in Dallas, the Lakers' undrafted rookie helped set the team's path to success. (Author: Gardener)

Austin Reaves'Lakers mob rookie Austin Reaves, center, after making a 3-pointer in the final second of overtime to give them a victory over the Dallas Mavericks in Dallas on Wednesday night. Editor's Note: This is the Thursday, December 16, 2021 issue of reporter Kyle Goon's Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter. DALLAS - The Lakers are a lot this year, but none of them are an underdog. In the hunt for the franchise's 18th record championship title, they rely on star power: LeBron James, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook. Step inside Austin Reaves, a parched Arkansas native who has swept through Lakerland like a breeze. He has been enchanting the fan base since Media Day when he recognized his nickname as "Hillbilly Kobe" with the Oklahoma Sooners. He grew up on a farm and wore perhaps the most popular patois in Lakers history since Jerry West. And it turns out: the child can play along a little, even as a lonely rookie for the most experienced team in the NBA. It's not just that Reaves hit a career high of 15 points on Wednesday night or even crowned him with a winning goal over overtime against the Dallas Mavericks. The fact is that Reaves embodies an underdog lead in a team of superstars that cuts into a season that is often lacking in inspiration. The Lakers beat the Mavericks and acted like they had just won the state: the bank bullyed him, gathered, and yelled. "It's amazing, especially for him," said Russell Westbrook. “Austin obviously played for OU so I was watching him from a distance. And now, seeing all of his work come to life in a moment, I know he is joyful. ”This is what Reaves has been working towards for a long time. The first time he really believed he could make it to the NBA was when Sooners' then coach Lon Kruger said this to him during his freshman year when he moved out of Wichita state: " I actually went to my truck, ”Reaves recalled with folk detail. The team's scouting department identified him as a "second-round steal" in the words of coach Frank Vogel, then the front office rushed when he was unpunished in search of a guaranteed deal. While Reaves' Summer League performances seemed nothing special to outsiders, they did help convince the Lakers that he was worth a squad spot instead of a two-way contract. Though the Lakers are better known for their deals that make big stars swing, their scouting department, led by Jesse Buss, is immensely proud of the last few picks and undrafted pickups they nailed: Kyle Kuzma, Josh Hart , Alex Caruso and Talen Horton -Tucker among them. Reaves looks like the latest success story. When Vogel considered which line-up should be canceled for extra time, Reaves was a "clear" choice. It is revealing that the Mavericks attacked Reaves in almost all of the overtime hours, and yet he largely held his own. "That's what we love about him: he's a two-way player," he said. “The guys don't recognize him so they think they can target him but he's a really good defender with good length and feet. The decision was easy for him when he defended at a high level. Wednesday was a happy day for Reaves: The Ringer posted an extensive profile detailing the expert approach that convinced the Lakers. Assistant Phil Handy said Reaves was quick to pick up on movie sessions and coaching tips, which makes him popular with the people who control his playing time and the people he plays with. "He's a hard worker: play hard, do the right things," said Davis. "Even if we attack him during the game, he is immediately there, accepts the criticism, takes the help and applies it to the ground." With that in mind, what Reaves brings to the table could go beyond 5.8 points and 2.5 rebounds per game. In a team of current and former NBA stars, Reaves brings along a blue collar grounding. He succeeded because he plays his role: defending, keeping your distance, moving the ball, shooting every now and then. It's exactly the discipline the Lakers have lacked in their most disappointing games and why they soar just above the play-in tournament slots in the west alongside injuries. It didn't help that COVID-19 restrictions continued into this year, draining the NBA a lot of energy and, as the Lakers saw this week, banning players at inopportune moments. Vogel and the coaching staff have preached basic concepts: boxing, staying at home in defense, jumping after loose balls, making extra passes. The roster is filled with a lot of players who are used to leaving the dirty work to the role boys, only the Lakers role players being Carmelo Anthony and DeAndre Jordan. Building the championship culture the Lakers had in 2019-20 has been more difficult with fluctuating commitment to the dirty details. It's a spiritual battle that some have interpreted as a threat to Vogel's job security, but on a more fundamental level, this could be the only way to get off this year's list as a real contender. Vogel clearly saw the game-winning shot as a possible turning point for his team - not necessarily because Reaves was the one who shot it, but because Westbrook was the one who overtook him. The Lakers have worked for weeks not to force an offensive, with mixed results and more than just Westbrook in charge. "For me that shot is, I think Russell is the guy that needs to be celebrated as much as Austin," he said. And for Russell, to drive the color at such a moment, to have the ability to finish, but to trust a teammate with the extra pass and be rewarded with the extra pass is a huge growth moment for our team. ”Only a third of the season, the Lakers have made it a habit to make setbacks the moment they seemingly cleared the runway. But it's also true that they have won 6 of their last 8 games, are 5-1 in overtime and have a chance to win four in a row on Friday in Minneapolis for the first time this season. It's also true that Wednesday's game was definitely a turning point for Reaves, whether or not the Lakers broke through - the rookie who has proven himself to his seasoned teammates in just a few months. It was difficult for him to articulate what it was like to be in that mosh pit with the NBA players he looked up to all his life. "You don't see that much, especially with the kind of guys we have on this team - six Hall of Famers and then all the guys who have been in the league for 10-12 years," he said. I mean, I grew up watching all of these guys play, so it's special to them ... just being teammates to me. ”Editor's note: Thank you for reading Reporter's Purple & Bold Lakers newsletter Kyle Goon read.

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Mavs stunned after Austin Reaves ’OT game winner for Lakers

Fans at the American Airlines Center got a glimpse of the interactions between Luka and LeBron on Wednesday evening, all of which played in the first Mavericks Lakers game from ... (Author: Gardener)

MavsFans at the American Airlines Center got a glimpse into the interactions between Luka and LeBron on Wednesday night, everyone hoped to see in the first Mavericks-Lakers game of the season. But when the hitch time comes, the least conspicuous player in the limelight commanded instead. Lakers two-way rookie guard Austin Reaves - with his boyish haircut and nontraditional ankle socks - whizzed a 3-pointer with 0.9 seconds of overtime left to bring the Mavericks a 107-104 defeat, one of their most daunting in the this season. Reaves' bucket slowed the arena euphoria from moments before when the most exuberant home crowd this season saw Maverick's striker Maxi Kleber with a 3-pointer from Doncic's sweet spot on the left wing to keep the score at 104 with 15.2 seconds in overtime tie . The Mavericks also seemed poised to win in regulation after building a 93-90 lead and keeping the Lakers goalless on five consecutive shot attempts in the final 2:43. But after James rattled the fifth with the fifth, a missed 3-pointer 9.1 seconds behind, Kristaps Porzingis and Kleber tried the ricochet and accidentally wrestled it away from each other. Wayne Ellington grabbed the loose ball and drilled a 3-pointer out of the corner two seconds from time to force extra time. This time around, the Dallas players and coaches ended up showing stoic disbelief. "Man, that sucks," said Porzingis and clasped his hands behind his head. The Mavericks had already ruled out Doncic (ankle pain in the left ankle) against the Lakers. Prior to the hint, coach Jason Kidd said the 22-year-old all-star would not be traveling with the team to Minnesota on Saturday for Sunday's game. Meanwhile, three Lakers players, including starter Talen Horton-Tucker, and a handful of staff have entered the NBA's health and safety log this week. The Mavericks avoided a positive fall among the players after leading the NBA with 56 missed man games under the COVID-19 protocol last season. They finished 12 of 44 of three (27.3%), including just three times in their 18 attempts at halftime, and were just 40 seconds in the second quarter, 12 points behind. However, after outperforming the Lakers 27-14 in the second quarter, including a 15-0 run shortly after falling behind at 12, they appeared on rhythm and ready to claim their eighth double-digit comeback win of the season. Jalen Brunson led by 25 points in 11 of 18 shots, and Porzingis added 23 points and 12 rebounds in 39 minutes. After James' 3-point miss with about nine seconds to go, Porzingis and Kleber both hit the ball. Kleber knew Porzingis was there, but the 7-4 Big Man was off balance, causing Kleber to try , to help. "I was trying to take time off at this point," said Kidd. “But then the ball got loose and landed in Wayne's hands and that's what he does. After the Lakers' final extension, Kidd wanted his team to sit around 10 seconds to force Los Angeles to roll back. Brunson tried to close Westbrook on a drive to Russell, but Westbrook drove and instead found Reaves as the hero on the wing. Reaves, an undrafted former Oklahoma standout, finished fifth out of six out of three, while the Lakers star trio topped 20 each: James, 24, Westbrook, 23 and Anthony Davis, 20. "We let one slip away," said Brunson. We had it in our hands and gave it away. ”This season, the Mavericks experienced moments of lightness in front of the full home crowd. Kidd - a masterful 2019-21 Lakers assistant - joked with James on the sidelines several times, and James stared at him after drilling a Logo 3 pointer in the middle of the third quarter. James also hugged and chatted with a smiling Doncic as the teams crossed paths to the locker rooms at halftime. But the final say in joy belonged to Reaves, whom the Lakers celebrated when the Mavericks left the pitch. For more Mavericks coverage in the Dallas Morning News, click here.

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Surging Jazz jump Warriors for 1st place; Curtsey fall; Lakers are approaching the top 10

The Cavs and Grizzlies also made big strides with unbeaten weeks (Author: Gardener)

1stLosing to a Clippers team without Paul George isn't ideal, but the Suns won their other two games against the Celtics and Blazers this week, though the latter required extra time. Chris Paul averaged 14.3 points and 11.7 assists per game for the week despite struggling off the field as the primary offensive weapon as Devin Booker missed all three games and Deandre Ayton two of them. The Cams (Payne and Johnson) averaged 15 points per game this week to fill the void. Ordinarily a 3-0 week of wins over the Hawks, Pistons and Raptors wouldn't be too much celebrating, but this was different as Brooklyn's roster was ravaged by health and safety protocols. As expected, Kevin Durant did much of the heavy lifting on offense, posting 38.7 points, 8.7 assists and 8.3 rebounds per game that week, including an NBA season high of 51 points in defeating Detroit. It's been a 4-0 week for the Cavs, who now have their best 30-game start without LeBron James in nearly 25 years. In total, they've won five in a row, led by a brilliant game from Darius Garland who averaged 16.3 points and 8.3 assists on 38 percent 3-point shooting this week. While the offense has grown sharply, the defense remained stingy, allowing only 98.2 points per 100 possessions in its four wins that week. Four more wins for the Grizzlies this week, who have now won nine of their last 10 games. The defense has been much better since Ja Morant was sidelined with a knee injury, and the offense has been incredibly productive this week with 117.3 points per 100 possession. Dillon Brooks led the way with 23.3 points per game on 37.5 percent 3-point shooting, while Jaren Jackson Jr. and Desmond Bane served as the other main assault weapons. The COVID-ravaged Bulls lost 26 points against the Heat earlier in the week before the league graciously stepped in and postponed their next two games. The only time you can't get too excited about an average of 124.5 per 100 possessions is when you allow 126.1. The Hornets are slowly starting to win their players back as they finished a 2-1 week with a 131-point win over the Spurs, but they allowed at least 115 points in all three games. Gordon Hayward set the season high of 41 points in 15v19 shooting in just 29 minutes in defeating Spurs and has now taken nine of his last 11 3-point points. Terry Rozier rejoined the fight in the last two games of the week, scoring 16.5 points per game in 5v12-3-point shooting. The Wizards, who have lost six of their last seven games, including all three this week, are just not doing right right now. Bradley Beal is starting to shoot better, averaging 23.3 points on 48 percent field goals and 36 percent 3s this week, but got very little offensive help. After losing to the Raptors, Bucks and Warriors this week, the Knicks have now lost four in a row and seven of their last eight games. It certainly doesn't help that RJ Barrett and Obi Toppin were each limited to one game this week, which may have contributed to the terrible offensive score of 99.6 as they never hit the century mark in any of their three losses. Julius Randle led the way with 17.3 points, 10.3 rebounds and five assists per game, but only shot 41 percent out of the field. That's now six straight losses for the Magic, which went to the Clippers, Lakers and Hawks this week. The silver lining is that Terrence Ross has started production after a difficult start to the season and is leading the team this week with 18.3 points per game ... even though he's only 39 percent off the field and 20 percent off the 3 point Range has shot. The Pistons lost two more games in double digits this week, bringing their total slide to 12 games. In addition to the injury, top scorer Jerami Grant is expected to be out for at least six weeks after tearing a thumb ligament in the Pelicans loss on Friday. Without him, Cade Cunningham scored 26 points, eight rebounds and six assists in Sunday's loss to Brooklyn before Tuesday's duel with the Bulls was postponed.

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