Rui Hachimura is bad luck for Memphis again as Lakers win

Lakers forward Rui Hachimura shoots against Memphis forward Santi Aldama in the first half.

Maybe the Grizzlies haven’t learned?

Despite them being ravaged by injuries and suspensions, their season largely a throwaway, Wednesday’s game with the Lakers was their first time this year hosting the team that ousted them last spring.

But, somehow, Rui Hachimura was still open.

“I got all the flashbacks from last year,” he said.

After Hachimura set the tone in the playoff opener a year ago by drilling five three-point shots, he found himself, again, open in Memphis, two feet behind the line just off Beale.

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With the Lakers forced to play without Anthony Davis because of a hyper-extended knee he suffered his 52-minute masterpiece Tuesday in Milwaukee, Hachimura’s shooting and commitment on the glass helped the Lakers hold off the Grizzlies in a 136-124 win — the Lakers' fifth straight.

Since becoming a full-time starter on Feb. 3, Hachimura is averaging 15 points and shooting 57.3% from the field and 41% from three.

The Lakers are 16-7 since the change.

“Clarity always helps performance. And so once inserting him into the starting lineup, it gives him a chance where the defense is not just focused on him,” Lakers coach Darvin Ham said postgame.

“All the scheming is done for Bron and AD and D-Lo and even AR. So if you want to technically call him a fifth option, I take that any and every day of the week,” Ham said.

Hachimura made seven of his eight threes — the most makes in his career — as he scored 32 points to lead the Lakers on the second night of a back-to-back. He also grabbed 10 rebounds, his second-straight game with at least 10 rebounds.

“That's how I get into rhythm,” Hachimura said. “So I think getting more action on the rebounding, I can push the ball, you know, I get another touch when I get the ball. It's easier for me to get into rhythm. I think I just got to keep doing that, the rebounding side. And just being aggressive on offense. That's normal for me, but especially with Bron or AD out, I have more opportunity attacking the rim, shooting the ball. That's how I can help.”

The Lakers ruled Davis out pregame, but got LeBron James back after he missed Tuesday’s game against the Bucks due to a lingering ankle issue. James had his fourth triple-double of the season with 23 points, 14 rebounds and 12 assists.

James said he needed to continue to monitor how his ankle felt.

“Just be very strategic on what, obviously, games and how many days in between games and flights and things of that nature,” he said. “Obviously, understanding and seeing how my ankle and my foot is feeling. But just being very smart about it, obviously. We are where we are, but our health has always been the most important for our ballclub.”

Davis didn’t undergo an MRI or X-ray on his knee, and the team will see how he feels Thursday.

Without him, all five starters, who included Jaxson Hayes, scored at least 13 points. Hayes, starting for Davis, finished with 14 points and seven rebounds. Taurean Prince and Spencer Dinwiddie both finished in double figures off the bench.

“We know we can be dangerous,” Prince said. “And having them not play, it's a chance to build confidence and find a rhythm. And it only helps us when all those guys are on the floor.”

Desmond Bane led the Grizzlies with 26.

Read more: Where does Lakers' 150-point outburst against Pacers rank on all-time franchise list?

The Lakers can continue their season-best five-game winning streak Friday in Indiana against the Pacers.

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This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.