For the first time this season, Hachimura was asked to start for the Lakers, his role of coming off the bench having changed Sunday night because James was injured.
The transition was seamless for Hachimura, his 19 points, five rebounds, two assists and two steals pivotal for the Lakers.
In his short time with the Lakers, Hachimura has been a starter and a role player.
“It’s different, but at the end of the day, it’s the same thing,” Hachimura said. “What I have to do is the same thing — play defense, get a rebound and attack on offense. It’s the same thing. Just rhythm-wise, of course, being in the starting lineup it’s easy. But for the team, if they need me to come off the bench, of course I’ll take that. It’s just I have to get in the rhythm coming off the bench.”
Hachimura was a force for the Lakers in the fourth quarter, scoring eight points in the final frame.
His tip-in of a Davis missed shot gave the Lakers a three-point lead in the fourth and his two free throws later essentially sealed the game, giving them a six-point lead.
“We have to win, that’s what I was thinking,” Hachimura said. “Bron was out and we just have to get this win. In the fourth quarter, they came back so I knew this was going to be winning time.”