Friday, June 2 2023

This Sunday afternoon, the Lakers beat the Grizzlies 128-112 in an impressive road game performance in Memphis, with unlikely sources like Austin Reaves and Rui Hachimura combining to defeat their Conference playoff first-round opponents. 

The young Japanese athlete delivered a career-best exhibition yesterday, even having an impact from shooting from beyond the arc, a skill he’s not known for. In his career, he possesses a 34.7% shooting efficiency from range and has shot only 29.6% since he became a Laker.

However, against the Grizzlies he connected five out of his six attempts from behind the three-point line, setting a new career high. Take a look at his outstanding display from yesterday’s purple and gold triumph:

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The only other game where Hachimura dropped at least 4 three-pointers was wearing the Wizards’ jersey back in March of 2021, and before, he only had 15 matches where he hit at least 3 threes.

“You know I’ve been watching film with coach Phil, he said those are gonna be the practice shots for me,” the power foward explained. “Because the way that they guard me, they’re gonna be in the paint, so I gotta be ready to take those kinds of shots.

“During the first half I just didn’t get a lot of those balls, but in the second half everybody was in a good rhythm, sharing the ball, and all those shots came to me. I felt confident to make the shots.”

For the 25-year-old, his teammates’ support has been crucial in his evolution as a basketball athlete. “It’s funny, since I came to this team, they believe in me. In my shots, in my defense…,” Hachimura recalled. “Before the games even the coaches and LeBron and AD, they all give me the green lights to take all those shots. They told me I’m a good shooter, so I felt very comfortable shooting those threes.”

But the power foward didn’t only shoot from beyond the arc, as he crushed the rim with a powerful dunk in the fourth quarter. “I just went to the rim, strong,” the Japanese player said after the match. “It’s funny, just two days ago we all had a conversation were the whole team told me my dunk package is weak and I was showing them my highlights on YouTube and they didn’t like them.

“So I told them that like ‘look, this series I’m gonna have one, you just watch’. And well, it happened today, and they told me after the game that I did,” Hachimura said with a smile on his face.

With this past Sunday’s display, Hachimura set a number of franchise marks

After dropping 29 points, the Japanese athlete became the first player to score 25+ points off the bench in a playoff game since Magic Johnson did it almost three decades ago.

Johnson achieved this feat in Los Angeles’ only win in their first-round series against the Houston Rockets, as the legendary player hit 26 points on 7-11 shooting overall and scored the only three-pointer he attempted.

Just to give you a clearer view on Hachimura’s accomplishment, it was one of the strongest performances in franchise history, as Rui tied with Mychal Thompson for the most points by a Lakers player coming off the bench in a playoff game.

As the next match will be this Wednesday, rival Desmond Bane dared the power foward to do it again.“It’s probably the best game of his career. It’s a seven-game series. Let’s see if he can do it again Wednesday,” he said.

Source: Basketball Insider


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