The Los Angeles Lakers are coming off of a controversial loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves in which a LeBron James three-pointer was ruled as a two (even after replay review). The Lakers have not been given much time to reflect on that loss, as the team is back in action a day later against the New Orleans Pelicans.
Road back-to-backs are already hard as is and it might be even tougher considering the heartbreak that the Lakers just endured the night before. But with a 17-16 record and a bad stretch of games prior to Sunday, the Lakers desperately need a win.
Winning on Sunday seems like an even bigger challenge considering the Lakers are going to be without two key rotation players. Both D'Angelo Russell and Cam Reddish have been ruled out of the game, which will force Darvin Ham to make adjustments.
However, ironically enough, these two injuries will force Ham to make the changes he probably should be making anyway. If anything, fans can be optimistic that Sunday's game will be an eye-opener for Ham.
Lakers injuries will force Darvin Ham to start Rui Hachimura, play Max Christie
Cam Reddish missed Thursday's game against the Charlotte Hornets and Rui Hachimura started in his place. Hachimura played an excellent game and had the best plus/minus on the entire team. Once again, Hachimura proved that when he is actually given a chance he can make a big difference.
So what happened on Saturday? Reddish was healthy and Hachimura's role dwindled. He played just 17 minutes in the game and could never truly get in a groove offensively. There is no denying that Hachimura played poorly, but it is hard to blame him when his head coach doesn't put him in positions to succeed.
Lakers fans will once again get to see Hachimura start and play a bigger role on Sunday. And with how Hachimura has played in the past when given the opportunity, he will likely prove why he should be getting more minutes in the first place.
Fans will also get to see second-year guard Max Christie get minutes in this game. Christie showed every sign of breaking out both in the Summer League and in the preseason. However, once the season started, Ham relegated Christie out of the rotation entirely.
When given his chances, Christie has impressed. He has not been perfect and there has been some bumps and bruises of being a young player in this league but for the most part, Christie has played well.
Like Hachimura, Christie is going to get his chance to impress Ham on Sunday night. In a perfect world, both Hachimura and Christie would have bigger roles on the Lakers and the hope is that Sunday night opens Ham's eyes to that fact.