It has been a bit of an up-and-down season for Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura. His minutes and production have fluctuated heavily as he’s dealt with injuries and as lineups have changed constantly around him.
But on Saturday night against the Oklahoma City Thunder, he put together one of his best performances of the season, and it was noticed by superstar LeBron James.
Hachimura finished with 21 points and six rebounds on 8-of-14 shooting in 30 minutes in a win that ended a four-game losing streak for the Lakers and ended a difficult road trip on a high note. It was Hachimura’s second solid performance in a row, as he scored 18 against the Minnesota Timberwolves on Thursday while getting a start in the absence of LeBron.
James — who finished the night with 40 points of his own in a dominant superstar performance — focused on the work that Hachimura put in and why it’s important to see him step up in a game like that, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“It was big-time. He was really good for us tonight. Like you said, it’s been up and down for him as far as playing time, but his minutes were consistent tonight and he made plays for us offensively and was able to get some key rebounds for us as well.”
Although the Lakers have more wings this season than last, Hachimura remains an integral piece of the puzzle for L.A. given his ability to be a two-way wing. He is arguably the best scorer of the Lakers’ wings outside of James and can hold his own defensively.
Hachimura proved himself to be hugely important for L.A. during the postseason, and although he’s struggled with an inconsistent role and production, he has all the tools to be a regular contributor for the Lakers when it matters most. Injuries have also slowed him down early this season, but he is now healthy and getting back in rhythm.
Now, it’s just about putting together a string of good performances to solidify himself in Darvin Ham’s ever-shifting rotations.
LeBron James: Lakers needed this win
James was highly complimentary of the entire Lakers team for putting their foot down and getting a big victory when they needed it. Picking up a win like that against one of the Western Conference’s best teams so far this season to end a major losing streak is a massive confidence boost as the Lakers return home for a marquee Christmas matchup against the Boston Celtics.
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!