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Mac McClung, Lakers Beat Suns in Summer League Behind Austin Reaves' Clutch Putback

Joseph Zucker@@JosephZuckerFeatured Columnist IVAugust 9, 2021

Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images

The Los Angeles Lakers have undergone quite the transformation, and fans got to see some of the young players who will be asked to step up in the coming season as the NBA Summer League got underway in Las Vegas.

The Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 73-72 on Sunday at the Thomas & Mack Center.

Mac McClung knocked down two free throws with 1:08 remaining to get the Lakers to within two points, 71-69, and then sank a mid-range jumper with 16.7 seconds on the clock to tie the score.

NBA TV @NBATV

Mac McClung comes up clutch 😤 <a href="https://twitter.com/hashtag/NBASummer?src=hash&amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">#NBASummer</a> <a href="https://t.co/nBOPnBL4kQ">pic.twitter.com/nBOPnBL4kQ</a>

Jalen Smith put the Suns ahead by one after hitting the second of two free throws, but Austin Reaves nailed what proved to be the game-winner at the other end of the floor. 

NBA @NBA

🗣 "AUSTIN REAVES ON TIME!"<br><br>The clutch putback puts the <a href="https://twitter.com/Lakers?ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw">@Lakers</a> back up by one on ESPN2! <a href="https://t.co/SDkhTJh6do">pic.twitter.com/SDkhTJh6do</a>

McClung was among Los Angeles' offseason additions, arriving with a training camp contract. The rookie guard averaged 15.5 points and 2.1 assists in his lone year at Texas Tech following a transfer from Georgetown.

Should he make the team, the 21-year-old might struggle to earn a regular role on a franchise with championship aspirations. But he could follow the trajectory of Talen Horton-Tucker, whose three-year, $30.8 million deal showed his value to L.A.

McClung combined for 17 points in the Lakers' two summer league contests in Sacramento, California. Sunday's win wasn't a step forward for the 6'2" playmaker.

He encountered tough sledding, with six of his 10 points coming from the charity stripe. He went 2-of-9 from the field and added four rebounds and one block in 21:53 on the floor.

Perhaps his best highlight came before the game got underway.

NBA Summer League @NBASummerLeague

Mac McClung with the bunnies. 🐰 <a href="https://t.co/FkDNIRFthP">pic.twitter.com/FkDNIRFthP</a>

Although he didn't have a noteworthy outing—late bucket aside—McClung seemed to recognize what's at stake and how every little bit helps in his quest to gain a roster spot.

Silver Screen and Roll @LakersSBN

Mac "Alex Caruso Jr." McClung with the drawn charge!

Tramel Raggs @Raggs_No_Riches

Mac McClung is out here fighting for his life. Drawing charges, playing solid defense and diving outta bounds for loose balls. Never seen this version of McClung

McClung will look to build on this win Wednesday against the New York Knicks.

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