At the start of the season, the Los(ing) Angeles Lakers had a defeat streak that played like the Grizzlies when they were in Vancouver.
Now, this winter, it’s finally getting hot in Southern California again.
The Lakers just beat the lowly San Antonio Spurs by a score of 113-104 at Crypto. Thanks to a currency of perfect players working their way into the rotation.
Before he went down with an injury, Anthony Davis was playing like his initials should read ‘ADMVP‘. And in his big return, he doubled-up for 21 points and a mirror reflective 12 rebounds. Meanwhile, royal subject LeBron James added 20. Continuing to close down on Kareem’s all-time points record.
The Lakers also added another big name this week in the form of the Far East favourite Rui Hachimura. They acquired the Wizard for the streaky Kendrick Nunn and a trio of draft choices.
The first Japanese player in Lakers history puts his country on the map in Los Angeles. Just like the Angels two-way sensation Shohei Ohtani, who may go down as the best baseball player of all-time when it is all said and done.
Hachimura isn’t even making the most headlines for a Japanese hooper right now. Not with the way Brooklyn Net Yuta Watanabe is knocking down three-balls like sluggers knock them out of the park.
Tokyo is hoping for a Hachimura vs. Watanabe, Lakers and Nets score-settler for this year’s NBA Japan games. This would mark the first-time the two Japanese players will have been on-court together in their native land since they represented in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics. When Rui literally carried the flag.
For Hachimura’s LA debut, Rakuten’s streaming servers in Japan crashed.
That’s how big he is.
It’s been a huge week for Hollywood moves in the purple and gold too, after the neighbouring Sparks franchise swung a trade for Las Vegas Ace Dearica Hamby. All we need now is for the team to sign-up Washington Mystic Rui Machida too.
Hachimura had 12 points in his first 21 minutes of Laker fame, rocking the number 28. His previous jersey number 8 (or “hachi” in Japanese) is already retired, of course. The Black Samurai also added six boards to his line. Looking like a nice addition as he got used to a new system.
If it wasn’t for his neat ball-handling on the way to the hoop, the new kid on the block would have fumbled more Wilsons than Tom Hanks in ‘Cast Away’. It’s just going to take time to get used to the LeBron freight-train running down the tracks of the hardwood floor. Maybe they can talk about it over some ‘Samurai’ wine.
Rui recovered well, though. Avoiding turnovers like another former Wizard he’s now reunited with.
A rejuvenated Russell Westbrook playing like the Sixth Man of the Year. Not to mention the rise of former Washington player Thomas Bryant, who had a hell of a run in Davis’ 20 game absence. Or Troy (not Tony, announcers) Brown Jr. from the perimeter. The latest spells of the old Wiz faithful are turning Showtime tricks that won’t have you thinking about any more trades.
Figure in the hard-nosed Wenyen Gabriel, rising rookie Max Christie (no relation to former Laker Doug) and Dennis Schröder looking like he could earn every dime of that $84 million contract he turned down. LA are deeper than the comments sections against them. A jawing Patrick Beverley off a season-high 18 points is also rounding into form. Walking that walk as well as talking that trash. Even if his watch is broken after Dame Time.
The Lake Show still don’t have all the smoke either. Darvin Ham’s men remain without two of their best performers this year. The sky-walking Lonnie Walker IV, who couldn’t come back against his old Spurs team. Joined on the pine in a suit and tie by the hero that makes you forget about Caruso, Austin Reaves.
Yet, it’s the arrival of Rui in Los Angeles, with his point-production and floor-spacing from downtown, that gives the Lakers yet another scoring option that it’s almost becoming offensive. Not to mention some D. And thanks to his arrival, last season’s talk of the town not being young enough is old news now.
LeBron is about to make history with his biggest milestone yet. But his Lakers are climbing towards a whole new legacy.