Rui Hachimura displays all-around skills in Lakers debut

LeBron James had just sat down after exiting the shower when he looked over and saw Rui Hachimura about to exit the Lakers locker room for his first media interview after a 113-104 win over San Antonio to lead after the game.

James smiled and said to no one in particular, “It feels good to have another 6-8 wing on…”

He laughed.

Hachimura was acquired Monday from the Washington Wizards for guard Kendrick Nunn and three second-round picks to give the Lakers some much-needed size on the wing. But he’s also a versatile player who Lakers coach Darvin Ham said could “score on three levels.”

Making his debut with the Lakers Wednesday night against the Spurs at Arena, Hachimura hit from the fast break, from the post and from three-point territory.

That came as no surprise to Anthony Davis, who was playing for the first time since missing 20 games with a right foot injury. Davis faced Hachimura while playing for the Wizards and recalled that his new teammate “was able to do anything.”

“Every time I’ve played him in Washington, he’s influenced the game on both ends of the floor,” Davis said. “And tonight we tried to introduce him. Lots of post-ups knowing he can do anything. Really good mid ranger shooter. Can come to the basket. Has a back-to-the-basket game. face up. Can shoot the ball.”

Hachimura first checked into the game in the first quarter with 4 minutes and 22 seconds left and came on with Davis, who was also a reserve in his first return game.

After missing his first three shots, Hachimura made a 16-foot leap in the second quarter with eight minutes remaining.

Then came the revealing moment for him when Hachimura filled the lane at the fast break later in the second half, taking a pass from James, fumbling it and recapturing the ball to score with a layup.

Hachimura smiled after the basket and slapped James on the hands as he ran back to the defense.

“Yeah, I’m just enjoying the moment,” Hachimura said. “I like to play fast. Obviously we like to play fast here at the Lakers. I think it suits me great. i like to run Anyone can pass. Anyone can push the ball. So I can push the ball. So, I think it’s great.”

Hachimura finished his night 9:31, scoring 12 points in four-for-seven shooting, one of three in three-pointers. He had six rebounds and one assist.

He made an impression.

“The kid is playing right,” said Ham. “He’s another one who’s capable of scoring on three levels, be it catch-and-shoot three, post-up. I called his number a couple of times to get him the ball in the mail. He’s got a good mid-range game and when he goes to the rim he goes hard as we saw on the one game he tried to dip in. He drew the foul call. … But Rui is a kid, he’s just out there to play properly and if you watch him over the years he fits in seamlessly.”

Hachimura found his groove in the fourth quarter and showed his full potential.

He drilled a three, he found James for an assist, he hit the post with a turnaround jump and was fouled on the post again, taking one of two free throws.

“We looked at a little bit of plays and defense and stuff this morning,” he said. “But yeah, today I think I did pretty well. I fit in pretty well with these guys. I think the players, play calls were so easy. And yes, we were just out there hopping. So yes, I think it was good.”

Davis joked that some of the plays that Hachimura appeared in the Post had been for him in the past and that he was told, “AD, you go in the corner.”

“But we just kept it going,” Davis said. “I told the guys to keep going, the action that Rui goes in the post. Just tell him, ‘If you don’t double, you fail. You go to work.’ So he set off. Made a U-turn and then got fouled. He can really, really help us on both sides. Obviously it will take some time for him to get used to the team. But tonight it looked like he was fitting in really well.”

Hachimura, who was born in Japan, was asked if he knew anything about reports that the Rakuten server crashed at some point during the Lakers vs Spurs game because of so many people from his country wanting to watch the game.

“Oh, honestly, I haven’t checked my phone yet. I do not know. I have to see it,” he said, smiling. “Like I said yesterday, I think the Lakers are literally the most famous team in the NBA in Japan. So yeah, I think a lot of people are watching here. And of course they followed me. I think as a country we are so happy with this move. And I think I’m so lucky to be here.” Rui Hachimura displays all-around skills in Lakers debut

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