The Lakers put together a 69-47 second half to run away with a 128-112 victory, and Hachimura led the team in scoring with 29 points on 11-of-14 shooting off the bench. In his 30 minutes of play, the player who was acquired around the trade deadline made five of his six three-point tries and added six rebounds.
Meanwhile, breakout second-year talent Austin Reaves continued his strong form from the end of the regular season with 23 points (eight-of-13 shooting), four assists, a steal and a block, marking his fourth 20-point game from his past five outings.
Anthony Davis was an absolute game-changer on the defensive end, swatting seven shots to go with his three steals, 22 points (10-of-17) and 12 rebounds, but James made sure to credit the lesser-known Lakers for the decisive start to the series.
“It was our supporting cast that won us the game tonight,” James said after putting up 21 points, 11 rebounds, five assists, three blocks and two steals of his own. “We trust with the ball in his hands – early in the game and late in the game.
“We got something going in the fourth quarter, and after every stop… we went back to AR and put the ball in his hands.
“He was able to hit a pull-up two, able to hit a three when he had a soft switch, and then hit another pull-up two to put us up eight and close the game for us offensively.
“speaks for itself, he was huge, he hit timely shots. They made runs – in the third quarter he had two threes in a row – then they made another run in the fourth quarter, and he hit another three off an AR pump-fake, drive, behind-the-back pass.
“He was just on-time, on-target all night tonight, and we needed that. Especially coming off the bench, with how strong [Memphis’] bench is, but we were able to counter that with Rui’s big game.”
Reaves called playing playoff basketball for the Lakers a dream come true, saying: “You dream about being on a stage like this – I got hot late and I had fun.”
LeBron shares trust in Reaves and Hachimura as Lakers
Meanwhile, the Grizzlies were not willing to read too much into Hachimura’s heroics, with Desmond Bane sharing that the plan was to leave him open, and it may remain the plan.
“That was our game plan going in,” he said. “Make him hit shots, and he did, tip your cap. It’s probably the best game he’s had in his career. It’s a seven-game series – let’s see if he can do it again Wednesday.”
Hachimura understands that is the case, and said of his role: “The way they guard me, they’re going to be in the paint, so I got to be ready to shoot those kind of shots.”
Game 2 will remain in Memphis on Wednesday, before the series heads to Los Angeles for Game 3 and Game 4.
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