Lakers News: Rui Hachimura Ties Mychal Thompson’s Franchise Record For Playoff Points Off Bench In Game 1 Vs. Grizzlies
Petre Thomas-USA TODAY Sports

The Los Angeles Lakers’ leading scorer in their Game 1 victory on the road over the Memphis Grizzlies was not one of their superstars in LeBron James or Anthony Davis. It wasn’t even one of their main secondary creators who’ve had big games this year like Austin Reaves, D’Angelo Russell or Dennis Schroder. Instead, it was reserve forward Rui Hachimura tying a Lakers franchise record with his scoring output.

Hachimura led the Lakers with 29 points, tying the Lakers’ record for points off the bench in a postseason game, held by current radio announcer Mychal Thompson. Out of Hachimura’s 29 points, 21 came in the second half as he and Reaves led the charge for the Lakers taking a 1-0 series lead.

After the game, Hachimura credited the film study he does with assistant coach Phil Handy, noting how he expected the Grizzlies to defend him the way they did, via Spectrum SportsNet:

“I’ve been watching film with Coach Phil [Handy]. He always told me those are gonna be the practice shots for me because the way they’re gonna guard me, they’re gonna be in the paint so I gotta be ready to shoot those kinda shots. In the first half I just didn’t get the ball as much so that’s why I didn’t really shoot much. But the second half we were in a good rhythm. Everybody was sharing the ball and all the shots just came to me so I was confident to shoot the shot.”

Hachimura definitely found himself in a great rhythm, knocking down 11-of-14 shots from the field and 5-of-6 from 3-point range as Memphis was content with forcing him to beat them from the outside. And the Lakers forward did just that, shooting the ball with confidence that he admitted was increased thanks to his coaches and teammates:

“It’s funny. Since I got here this team really believes in me. My shots and my defense, everything I do. Before a game the coaches, everybody including Phil and Bron and AD, they gave me all the green lights to shoot all those shots because they told me I’m a good shooter so I was confident. I was very comfortable shooting those 3s.”

It would be unfair to expect Hachimura to keep shooting at this level, but what is most important is that he continues to play with this level of confidence. The improvement of the supporting cast has taken the Lakers to a much higher level and Hachimura has the ability to be a major difference-maker in this postseason.

Desmond Bane challenges Lakers’ Rui Hachimura to repeat Game 1 performance

As Hachimura noted, he expected to be defended by Memphis the way he was, and Grizzlies guard Desmond Bane confirmed in his post-game press conference that it was part of their game plan to let Hachimura shoot from the outside.

After tipping his cap to the Lakers forward for making the Grizzlies pay, Bane would then challenge Hachimura to have another game like he did in Game 1 in Wednesday’s Game 2. Whether he is able to do so will be one of the most watched subplots of that contest.

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