Desmond Bane issues challenge to Rui Hachimura after Lakers-Grizzlies Game 1

Zach Stevens
3 Min Read

The Los Angeles Lakers drew first blood on Sunday against the Memphis Grizzlies in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series with a 128-112 victory, but it wasn’t LeBron James or Anthony Davis who hurt them most, at least offensively.

Rather, it was reserve forward Rui Hachimura, who went off for 29 points. Yet the Grizzlies’ Desmond Bane wonders if it was nothing more than a fluke.

Hachimura did the bulk of his work in the third quarter when he hit four of his five 3-pointers and helped give the Lakers a 96-90 lead at the end of the frame. Overall, he shot a sizzling 11-of-14 from the field.

He was acquired in late January in a trade that sent little-used guard Kendrick Nunn and draft capital to the Washington Wizards, and he quickly improved what was some very poor frontcourt depth for Los Angeles. His production was up and down during the regular season, but he came on strong toward the end of the schedule.

This was an afternoon in which James and Davis didn’t score a ton of points. James had 21 points while Davis scored 22, but both played outstanding defense, combining for 10 blocked shots and five steals.

It helped Los Angeles outscore Memphis 26-17 in fast-break points, something that was a big concern for it heading into the contest.

Instead, the Grizzlies now have plenty of concerns, and their biggest one is the status of Ja Morant, who injured his hand midway through the fourth quarter and didn’t return. He said afterward that his availability for Game 2 is “in jeopardy” and that his right hand is in pretty poor shape.

He scored just 18 points and committed six turnovers on Sunday, which also contributed to his team’s loss.

The Lakers have stolen home-court advantage away from the second-seeded Grizzlies, and if Morant is unable to play in Game 2, which takes place on Wednesday, James and crew could put Morant’s team in a very unhealthy position moving forward.

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Zach has always had a profound love and respect for the Lakers that has inspired him to write about the franchise. He has a great deal of admiration for LeBron James, and his overall knowledge about the NBA has made him a solid addition to the Lakers Daily staff.