Rui Hachimura says opponents are always motivated to beat Los Angeles: ‘We’re the Lakers’

Peter Dewey
3 Min Read
Gary A. Vasquez-USA TODAY Sports

Los Angeles Lakers forward Rui Hachimura gave an honest assessment of how opposing teams approach games against the Lakers.

“I just gotta bring the energy,” he began. “Especially the first quarter, we gotta bring the energy. Every team we play, they wanna beat us. We’re the Lakers. So, they gonna come out with good energy.”

Hachimura also spoke about the Lakers’ issue with slow starts this season, saying the team often has to play catch-up.

That’s been an issue for Los Angeles all season, as the Lakers rank 29th in the NBA in first-quarter net rating at -12.8. Only the Portland Trail Blazers have a worse net rating in the first quarter this season.

The Lakers lost to the Utah Jazz on Saturday night, another frustrating loss for the team as it fell to 19-21 on the season. Los Angeles is currently the No. 11 seed in the Western Conference and has won just three of its last 10 games.

The Lakers are one of the most storied franchises in the NBA, so there’s no doubt that there is a little extra motivation to beat the team every time an opponent laces up to face Los Angeles.

Plus, the squad made the Western Conference Finals last season, so it came into the 2023-24 season with a little bit of a target on its back after being one of the best teams in the NBA last season – particularly in the playoffs.

There is still a lot of time to go in the 2023-24 season, but Hachimura and the Lakers need to turn things around sooner rather than later. The Western Conference is loaded at this point in the season, with 10 different teams having records of .500 or better.

That’s left teams like the Lakers and Golden State Warriors just outside of the picture for the play-in tournament at this juncture.

Hachimura, who returned to the lineup against Utah after missing L.A.’s previous five games, could be a difference maker for Los Angeles.

The Lakers forward scored 17 points on 6-of-12 shooting on Saturday night despite playing just 18:42 in the game. Hopefully, Hachimura can help spark the Lakers as they look to get back on track with 42 games left in the regular season.

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Peter is a graduate of Quinnipiac University where he covered the MAAC and college basketball for three years. He has worked for NBC Sports, the Connecticut Sun and the Meriden Record-Journal covering basketball and other major sports. Follow him on Twitter @peterdewey2.