Austin Reaves Believes First Quarters Have Been ‘Achilles Heel’ For Lakers

Originally published by LakersNation.com

Austin Reaves and the Los Angeles Lakers have fallen on hard times as the midway point of the 2023-24 regular season nears.

The Lakers are 17-18 through 35 games after losing nine of their last 12, including two losing streaks of three or more games.

It’s dropped them all the way to 10th in the Western Conference after winning the In-Season Tournament, and meanwhile, head coach Darvin Ham is still figuring out a solidified rotation.

The starts of games have been particularly difficult because of this. With constant shuffling between players like Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, Cam Reddish, Rui Hachimura and more, the Lakers have been unable to get any rhythm going in first quarters. L.A. ranks 26th in first quarter offensive rating, 28th defensively and 29th overall with a -15.3 net rating in the opening period.

Reaves, who is one of the players who has seen his role fluctuate the most this season and returned to the starting lineup against the Miami Heat, spoke about the most recent iteration of the starting lineup and the larger problems plaguing L.A. in first quarters.

“Obviously it’s a small sample size, I think it’s the first time we started like this this year,” Reaves said of Wednesday night’s group. “I think it gives us an opportunity to do a lot of things on both ends.

“But basically the Achilles heel to our season so far has been the first quarter not being so good. So regardless of what lineup we put out there, we got to get off to better starts. Regardless of how to do that or what the fix is, we just got to figure it out.”

Reaves vehemently denied that frequent lineup changes could be causing the slow starts, saying that it shouldn’t matter who is in the starting lineup.

“We can’t use that as an excuse. Regardless of what the lineup is, what changes, whatever happens, we got to be better as a team and go win games. We’re more than talented enough to win games. We have enough depth. We have enough skill. We got to figure it out. We’ve spoken for the first, I don’t know how many games we’ve played, 30-something, about finding that chemistry and finding that togetherness. So now we just got to figure it out. That’s really it.”

The Lakers rank seventh in net rating in second quarters, 12th in third quarters and 16th in fourth quarters. With those three numbers being what they are, there is no reason the Lakers should be below .500. But it speaks to how much of a challenge the opening frame has been.

Reaves and L.A. must quickly figure out a solution to the slow starts, as it could be the difference between a postseason spot and a lost campaign.

Austin Reaves: Lakers have missed opportunities losing with Anthony Davis & LeBron James

Another major disappointment for the Lakers is that they have been losing games consistently despite getting a healthy and dominant Anthony Davis alongside a regularly available LeBron James, two things that haven’t been true in past seasons.

Reaves doesn’t think that is acceptable for this team. “For sure. Just speaking about Bron and AD playing the way they’ve been playing, we feel like we should win some of those games and we just haven’t,” he said.

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Austin Reaves and the Los Angeles Lakers have fallen on hard times as the midway point of the 2023-24 regular season nears.

The Lakers are 17-18 through 35 games after losing nine of their last 12, including two losing streaks of three or more games.

It’s dropped them all the way to 10th in the Western Conference after winning the In-Season Tournament, and meanwhile, head coach Darvin Ham is still figuring out a solidified rotation.

The starts of games have been particularly difficult because of this. With constant shuffling between players like Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell, Cam Reddish, Rui Hachimura and more, the Lakers have been unable to get any rhythm going in first quarters. L.A. ranks 26th in first quarter offensive rating, 28th defensively and 29th overall with a -15.3 net rating in the opening period.

Reaves, who is one of the players who has seen his role fluctuate the most this season and returned to the starting lineup against the Miami Heat, spoke about the most recent iteration of the starting lineup and the larger problems plaguing L.A. in first quarters.

“Obviously it’s a small sample size, I think it’s the first time we started like this this year,” Reaves said of Wednesday night’s group. “I think it gives us an opportunity to do a lot of things on both ends.

“But basically the Achilles heel to our season so far has been the first quarter not being so good. So regardless of what lineup we put out there, we got to get off to better starts. Regardless of how to do that or what the fix is, we just got to figure it out.”

Reaves vehemently denied that frequent lineup changes could be causing the slow starts, saying that it shouldn’t matter who is in the starting lineup.

“We can’t use that as an excuse. Regardless of what the lineup is, what changes, whatever happens, we got to be better as a team and go win games. We’re more than talented enough to win games. We have enough depth. We have enough skill. We got to figure it out. We’ve spoken for the first, I don’t know how many games we’ve played, 30-something, about finding that chemistry and finding that togetherness. So now we just got to figure it out. That’s really it.”

The Lakers rank seventh in net rating in second quarters, 12th in third quarters and 16th in fourth quarters. With those three numbers being what they are, there is no reason the Lakers should be below .500. But it speaks to how much of a challenge the opening frame has been.

Reaves and L.A. must quickly figure out a solution to the slow starts, as it could be the difference between a postseason spot and a lost campaign.

Austin Reaves: Lakers have missed opportunities losing with Anthony Davis & LeBron James

Another major disappointment for the Lakers is that they have been losing games consistently despite getting a healthy and dominant Anthony Davis alongside a regularly available LeBron James, two things that haven’t been true in past seasons.

Reaves doesn’t think that is acceptable for this team. “For sure. Just speaking about Bron and AD playing the way they’ve been playing, we feel like we should win some of those games and we just haven’t,” he said.

Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!