While the Lakers did welcome back a number of players from injury on Saturday against the Rockets, there was one able surprise and exception to that. Despite not being listed on the injury report nor being included in the inactive prior to the game, Rui Hachimura did not see the court.
Postgame, Darvin Ham revealed that Rui was a late scratch prior to the game after going through a pregame warm-up. After having a number of more days off, Rui spoke at practice on Monday and sure made it sound like he would be taking the court on Tuesday.
Rui Hachimura says he thinks he’s going to play tomorrow vs. Phoenix. He said he wasn’t ready to play Saturday after surgery and being off for a week.— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) December 4, 2023
Darvin Ham on Rui Hachimura’s availability vs. Phoenix: “We’ll see. … In all likelihood, I think he’ll be out there.”— Jovan Buha (@jovanbuha) December 4, 2023
Hachimura will be in a mask, which he started showing off on Monday. Jarred Vanderbilt shared a video with Rui on his IG Story showing Rui in his black mask.
Sneak peek at Rui’s black mask for Tuesdays game??— ²³ ☄️ (@BronGotGame) December 4, 2023
via Vando’s IG story pic.twitter.com/j84PlynIn2
While the black mask doesn’t go quite as hard as Kobe’s did, it still looks really good. And it’ll look even better if he can return to the court and have a strong game against the Suns.
In the last meeting against Phoenix, Rui set a career-high in steals with four and helped the team make a big fourth-quarter comeback. And while the Lakers welcomed many players back, Rui offers an offensive output that those players don’t.
Overall, it would just be pretty cool if the Lakers had a nearly full buffet of options available in the biggest game of the season, a sentence I write unironically about a Dec. 6 contest. The power of the In-Season Tournament is real.
You can follow Jacob on Twitter at @JacobRude.