NBA: Rui Hachimura expected to play for Lakers vs. Spurs
The Los Angeles Lakers are expected to give their newest addition a spin when they play host to the San Antonio Spurs on Wednesday.
Forward Rui Hachimura was acquired from the Washington Wizards on Monday and was on the bench but not active Tuesday for the Lakers’ 133-115 defeat against the Los Angeles Clippers.
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There would be no time like the present to debut Hachimura, who would give the Lakers fresh legs against the Spurs on the second night of a back-to-back situation for the hosts.
The 6-foot-8, 230-pound Hachimura will give the Lakers size that will be needed — even when the 6-10 Anthony Davis returns to the court. Davis has been out the past 20 games, although he could be ready to return from a stress injury to his right foot suffered against San Antonio.
“He had another great day today and he’ll be re-evaluated (Wednesday) morning,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said.
At 24, Hachimura is young enough — and nimble enough — to fit into the Lakers’ more up-tempo style with guards Russell Westbrook and Dennis Schroder. LeBron James has been leading that charge for Los Angeles, scoring 46 points Tuesday while moving within 177 points of Kareem Abdul-Jabbar’s all-time NBA scoring record.
“Adding both size and depth to the wing position has been a goal, and the chance to accomplish that by acquiring a player with Rui’s two-way skills and upside was an opportunity that doesn’t present itself often,” Lakers general manager Rob Pelinka said.
Hachimura should bring plenty of confidence into his Lakers debut. He has averaged just 13 points per game this season, but he is coming off a career-best 30-point effort in the Wizards’ victory over the Orlando Magic on Saturday.
In addition to Davis, the Lakers are close to welcoming back Austin Reaves (hamstring) and Lonnie Walker IV (knee), who have been out for the last three weeks.
The Spurs’ defense took another blow Monday in a 147-127 road loss to the Portland Trail Blazers, a team the Lakers defeated by nine points on Sunday.
San Antonio has given up an average of 133 points over their last seven defeats, with the outlier in that stretch a 106-98 victory over the Brooklyn Nets on Jan. 17.
“We’re not in a position where we can make that many mistakes defensively,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “The young guys are slowly figuring that out, but we’ve got to win that battle. We’ve just got to keep going and make sure to understand that demand is not going to go away.”
Keldon Johnson had 20 points in an all-around scoring effort for the Spurs, who had eight players in double figures. San Antonio shot 52.2 percent, but that was negated by the Trail Blazers’ 59.8 percent effort.
Johnson averages a team-best 21.5 points per game and Jakob Poeltl grabs 9.2 rebounds, but the Spurs have won just five times in 21 road games.
The Lakers will look to sweep the season series between the teams after Los Angeles won by 31 at home on Nov. 20 then took back-to-back games at San Antonio on Nov. 25 and 26, scoring 143 points in the second victory.
–Field Level Media
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