Photo: Peter Baba

With Taurean Prince and Cam Reddish no longer in the Los Angeles Lakers’ starting lineup, Austin Reaves has assumed more crucial defensive responsibilities.

In the recent victory against the Thunder, Reaves took on the challenge of guarding Thunder All-Star Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, as highlighted by Khobi Price of the Orange County Register.

LeBron James commended Reaves for willingly accepting the defensive challenge, particularly against one of the league’s top players. The focus was on preventing unnecessary fouls and limiting Gilgeous-Alexander’s free-throw opportunities, a key aspect of his scoring.

James praised Reaves for his sensational defensive performance throughout the game, emphasizing his efforts to disrupt the offensive plays of both Shai Gilgeous-Alexander and Jalen Williams. At the same time, the team worked collectively to provide support on the defensive end.

“He just took the challenge,” LeBron James said of Reaves. “Obviously, Shai is one of the best players that we have in our league, so it’s just trying not to put him at the free-throw line because that’s where he gets a lot of his points from too.

“Austin was sensational from the start to the finish, whenever he was out on the floor just trying to play the ball and making Shai and making [Jalen Williams] take tough shots and we’d just try to protect him on the back end.”