The Lakers’ relatively new addition weighs in.
Reserve Los Angeles Lakers combo forward Rui Hachimura enjoyed a solid game last night, as he and the rest of LA’s available role players stepped up in a big way to help Los Angeles squeak past the Oklahoma City Thunder on the road, 123-117, in a battle of Western Conference play-in hopefuls.
All-Star Los Angeles small forward LeBron James, starting point guard D’Angelo Russell, and center Anthony Davis were all unavailable with various maladies. On the other side, All-Star Oklahoma City point guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander couldn’t suit up, due to being placed in the NBA’s COVID-19 healthy and safety protocols.
Thus, it fell to role players like Hachimura to take on an increased scoring and defensive burden. For the night, he finished with nine points on 3-of-6 shooting from the floor, nine rebounds and three blocks.
Afterwards, he reflected on his own performance and his team’s growing bond with gathered reporters.
“I talked to the coaches a couple days ago, and they told me they want me to be aggressive more,” Hachimura told reporters. “They want me to be more aggressive on the defensive rebounding side… I think I did a pretty good job on that.”
“I think we still have to play together, like we always do — share the ball, defend together, those kinds of things are really important,” the 6’8″ forward added. “We just [have] got to build the chemistry it’s only been a week, two weeks.”
The 30-33 Lakers, the Western Conference’s 11th seed, next face off against another play-in tournament hopeful, the eight-seeded 32-32 Minnesota Timberwolves, on Friday.