LeBron James offers major praise to Rui Hachimura following his huge performance in Lakers win - Lakers Daily LeBron James offers major praise to Rui Hachimura following his huge performance in Lakers win - Lakers Daily

LeBron James offers major praise to Rui Hachimura following his huge performance in Lakers win

LeBron James and Rui Hachimura Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Just over a week after being the odd man out of the rotation and getting no playing time in a game against the Chicago Bulls, Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura put together a huge performance against the Houston Rockets on Sunday.

The 25-year-old had a game to remember, registering 20 points, 12 boards and three blocks off the bench. After the matchup, Lakers superstar LeBron James had nothing but good things to say about Hachimura.

“Gameball definitely goes to Rui, for sure,” said James. “I mean, he was all over the floor, not only offensively, but defensively. Big time. A couple big-time blocks, rebounding out of his position.”

James added more.

“I think he’s a rhythm player and when he knows he’s going to play and he’s going to get a significant amount of minutes off the bench, I think he can be really, really good for us,” James said. “I think coach [Darvin] Ham has done a great job over the last couple games, including the coaching staff, of finding a rotation that’s been fitting our team and Rui has been one of the first guys off the bench and we look for him. We know what he’s capable of.”

Hachimura spoke about his connection with James.

“I think me and him can connect a lot because I like to run the floor,” Hachimura said. “He needs somebody to run the floor with him too and I think me and him connect and even in the half court I can be physical, can shoot threes and stuff. I think that’s been good for me.”

The former lottery pick has averaged 9.4 points and 4.7 rebounds per game since joining the Lakers, shooting 48.6 percent from the field and 32.2 percent from deep along the way.

When he didn’t get any playing time against the Bulls a little over a week ago, many fans were perplexed, but he obviously found his way back into the rotation quickly.

Hachimura has some playoff experience under his belt, and with the way things are trending for the Lakers, it looks like that’s going to come in handy. In five career playoff games, Hachimura has averaged 14.8 points per game on efficient shooting to go along with 7.2 boards per contest.

The sample size is small, but those numbers may indicate that the four-year pro isn’t afraid of big moments. The Lakers would certainly love to see him shine in the 2023 postseason.

Los Angeles would land in the play-in field if the regular season ended today, but the team is knocking on the door of an outright playoff bid. The Lakers, who are the No. 7 team in the Western Conference currently, are just a half-game back from the Golden State Warriors and Los Angeles Clippers, who are the No. 6 and No. 5 teams, respectively.