With this current Los Angeles Lakers roster, there are always a number of candidates to have a big game. Anthony Davis and LeBron James are always expected to produce, but the team can get a huge contribution from any number of players on each given night and on Sunday against the Houston Rockets, that came courtesy of Rui Hachimura.
Hachimura was excellent in Houston, finishing with 20 points on 10-of-14 shooting to go along with 12 rebounds and three blocks. The fourth-year forward has struggled some since moving to a bench role following the trade deadline, but this contest was proof of what he can bring to this Lakers team.
And that was not lost on LeBron James, who gave Hachimura the hypothetical game ball and praised his performance on both ends of the court, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“Game ball definitely goes to Rui for sure. I mean he was all over the floor not only offensively, but defensively. A couple big-time blocks, rebounding out his position. AD was AD. AD’s been on a tear and then the rest of us we just try to fill in and make up. Big time game for us and you know we wanna try to continue it.”
LeBron would continue on with his praise for Hachimura, stating his belief that he can play a big role for the Lakers with significant minutes off the bench while noting how difficult it is to guard a player like that:
“Well I think he’s a rhythm player and when he knows he’s gonna play and he’s gonna get a significant amount of minutes off the bench I think he can be really, really good for us. I think Coach Ham has done a great job over the last couple games, including the coaching staff, of finding a rotation that’s been fitting our team and Rui has been one of the first guys off the bench and we look for him. We know what he’s capable of. I mean at his size it’s not many guys his height and his size and his build to be able to guard him on the offensive end. But tonight he was very assertive and that’s why we went to him more and more and more.”
Locking in the right rotation has been a work in progress for Darvin Ham and the Lakers coaching staff, but Hachimura is a huge weapon. As LeBron said, his offensive ability at his size, along with the effort he is giving on the defensive end, make him a real difference-maker.
Figuring out the right minutes for the reserves could change on a game-by-game basis and be dependent simply on who has it going that night. Hachimura had it in Houston and has the potential to continue to deliver down the stretch.
James believes Lakers roster allows him to adjust game based on what’s needed
As far as James himself, he took on more of a facilitator role against Houston with both Hachimura and, of course, Anthony Davis doing the heavy lifting from a scoring standpoint. And this is something LeBron believes this Lakers roster allows him to do.
James spoke about every game being different, noting that if he needs to be more of a scorer he can do that, but this night necessitated him being a shot creator and feeding the hot hands. But with so many players able to bring different things to the table, LeBron can simply read the room and find his spot as to where he can best help the team.
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