‘The physical style’: How Rui Hachimura helped Lakers beat the Grizzlies

Rui Hachimura grapples for the rebound with Santi Aldama.
Lakers forward Rui Hachimura and Grizzlies forward Santi Aldama fight for rebounding position during the first half Tuesday night at Arena.
(Jae C. Hong / Associated Press)

The basketball arrived in Rui Hachimura’s hands on a kick-out pass from Anthony Davis, a key moment early in the fourth quarter of the Lakers’ game against the Memphis Grizzlies, a moment for one of the newest Lakers to deliver.

Hachimura took one quick dribble and pulled up for a jumper, making the shot to give the Lakers a one-point lead.

He was doing his part in this game, scoring 17 points and grabbing six rebounds during the Lakers’ 112-103 win over Memphis on Tuesday night.


“Yeah, I was trying to be aggressive on defense, offense and rebounding,” Hachimura said. “I think I had a bigger job on that, and I was able to help the team to win.”

Hachimura did it with his offense, shooting seven for 11 from the field.

He did it with his defense and rebounding, once again stepping up in the absence of LeBron James.

Anthony Davis finished with 30 points and 22 rebounds, plus a bloodied nose, to lead the Lakers to a win over Memphis on Tuesday night.

March 7, 2023

“I just think when he’s able to play aggressive and get to the rim, get to the free-throw line, the physical style,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said about Hachimura. “Everybody’s encouraging him to let it all hang out and he’s trying to do that. Different physical matchups, he feels those hits. He feels like he gets the whistle blown on him sometimes unfairly, and that tends to wake him up and he tends to play a lot more physical. So we thought he was excellent off the bench.”

Hachimura played 27 minutes and 35 seconds, 8:08 in the fourth quarter, showing how much faith Ham had in Hachimura when the game was still in doubt.

“The role and everything, the minutes and everything changes, so it’s hard for me to adjust,” Hachimura said. “But it’s the same for everybody. I just gotta get used to it. I gotta be ready always and make an impact in the game.”

Here are three more takeaways from the Lakers’ victory on Tuesday:

Brown has highlight dunk

Troy Brown Jr. stole a pass and took off down court, his head down and his feet moving fast, not fully aware that Memphis’ John Konchar was in pursuit.


As he approached the rim, Brown threw down a one-handed dunk over Konchar, and he was fouled on the play.

The crowd inside Arena was on its feet and Brown’s teammates were yelling. Brown paused and then posed after his electric play.

Brown was low-key about it, not aware that Konchar had hit him on the head.

“Honestly it all happened so fast I don’t even remember,” Brown said. “I was surprised he jumped. I thought I was in front of him. So, yeah, it was a pretty nice play, though.”

He said he didn’t even know the dunk went in.

“I had no idea,” Brown said. “I heard everybody yelling and it started getting crazy up in there.”

Brown had produced yet another good game for the Lakers, scoring 13 points on four-for-10 shooting, grabbing four rebounds and playing what has become his usually solid all-around game.

“We definitely needed that win,” Brown said. “That was a big win for us.”

Lakers dominate backboards

Davis was a monster on the backboards, claiming 22 rebounds.

But he wasn’t alone in helping the Lakers outrebound the Grizzlies 57-45.

A choked-up Pau Gasol has his No. 16 Lakers jersey retired to the rafters next to Kobe Bryant’s No. 24 during a ceremony Tuesday night.

March 7, 2023

Forward Jarred Vanderbilt had eight rebounds, while point guard Dennis Schroder and Hachimura had six, Malik Beasley five, and Brown and Austin Reaves had four.

“We were great on the glass, thus AD with 22 rebounds,” Ham said. “It was awesome. We had multiple guys with four or more rebounds, and you need that against a team like Memphis. I think it ended up being six guys with four or more rebounds. We always talk about gang rebounding. Not just relying on one or two people — everyone getting involved. And that’s the perfect example of that.”


Play-in tournament not the goal

By the end of Tuesday night, the Lakers had moved to the ninth spot in the Western Conference standings.

That meant they had moved into position for the NBA’s play-in tournament.

The Lakers are just two games behind the Dallas Mavericks and Golden State Warriors, who occupy the fifth and sixth spots.

The top six teams in each conference get an automatic playoff spot.

With 16 regular-season games remaining, the Lakers have their eyes set on securing one of those playoff spots.

They will have to climb over four teams to get there, but that remains their goal.

“It’s good, but we’re not satisfied. We don’t want to stop there,” Davis said of a play-in spot. “We want to be greedy, get as many wins as possible and try to keep moving up the ladder. We still got to take care of business and do what we’re supposed to do. But it feels good to move up another spot and continue chasing our goal, which is to not only be in the play-in but possibly securing a top-six spot.”