Rui Hachimura contributed seven points and two rebounds in his return from nasal surgery Tuesday as he helped the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Phoenix Suns 106-103 and advance to the semifinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament.
The Japanese men’s national basketball team star had been out of action since undergoing surgery on Nov. 24, two days after suffering a nasal fracture in a game against the Dallas Mavericks.
Wearing a custom-made face mask to protect his nose, he played 21 minutes off the bench at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles.
LeBron James had 31 points, 11 assists and eight rebounds to lead the Lakers into the last four of the inaugural In-Season Tournament. They will face semifinal opponents, the New Orleans Pelicans, in Las Vegas on Thursday.
Kevin Durant led the Suns with 31 points and seven boards, while Hachimura’s Japan teammate, Yuta Watanabe, remained on the bench for the visiting team.
Japanese men’s national basketball teammates Rui Hachimura (R), of the Los Angeles Lakers, and Yuta Watanabe, of the Phoenix Suns, share a conversation after the Lakers beat the Suns in the quarterfinals of the NBA In-Season Tournament at Crypto.com Arena in Los Angeles on Dec. 5, 2023. (NBAE/Getty/Kyodo)