Basketball / NBA

Rui Hachimura scores team-high 19 as Wizards fall to Nets

Kyodo, Reuters

Rui Hachimura, the Washington Wizards’ top pick in the 2019 NBA Draft, led his team in scoring on Monday in his second Summer League appearance.

The former Gonzaga Bulldogs standout backed up a solid first game to tally 19 points in an 88-85 loss to the Brooklyn Nets. He scored eight points down the stretch as Washington unsuccessfully attempted to overcome a late deficit.

He shot 6-for-14 from the floor, missing both of his 3-point attempts. He was 7-for-8 from the free-throw line. The 21-year-old grabbed seven rebounds and had a steal and a block in just under 30 minutes of court time.

Robert Pack, the Wizards’ Summer League head coach, said he saw positive signs from the rookie from Toyama Prefecture.

“I thought he had some shots that he hesitated a little bit,” Pack said of Hachimura. “That’s to be expected, he’s still young, this is just his second game.

“He stays composed, and does not let it speed him up, I thought tonight was a good example of that.

“He was not particularly playing well, offensively, in the first half but he didn’t let it stop him and he played through it and that’s what you want to see from a young player like Rui.”

Troy Brown Jr., the Wizards’ 2018 first-round pick, scored 16 points and Troy Caupain contributed 15 as Washington fell to a 1-1 record in Las Vegas.

Josh Gray, who had a stint with the Phoenix Suns before signing a deal in South Korea in 2018, led the Brooklyn Nets with 19 points.

Bosnian Dzanan Musa, a first-round pick of the Nets in 2018, scored eight points but made his most significant contribution when he blocked a buzzer-beating 3-point attempt from the Wizards’ Caupain as time expired, sealing the win for the Nets.

The Wizards face the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday before taking on the Atlanta Hawks on Thursday.

In other NBA news, LeBron James is preparing to take on a new role with the Los Angeles Lakers this season as point guard, according to a report on Monday by Yahoo Sports’ Chris Haynes.

The 34-year-old James will take over floor general duties from Lonzo Ball, who was traded to New Orleans, and Rajon Rondo, who is one of three other point guards on the Lakers’ roster along with Quinn Cook and Alex Caruso.

While James has started sparingly as a point guard in his career, the job falls within his comfort zone since the 15-time All-Star and four-time NBA MVP has functioned primarily as a point forward for most of his career.

James is starting his 17th season in the league and will be surrounded by several new faces looking to contend for a championship, thanks to the addition of All-Star forward Anthony Davis and six-time All-Star center DeMarcus Cousins.

Meanwhile, Russell Westbrook’s 11-year run in Oklahoma City could be coming to a close as the Thunder shift into rebuilding mode.

The latest move from Thunder general manager Sam Presti came as forward Jerami Grant was traded to the Denver Nuggets for a 2020 first-round pick. Moving Grant saves the Thunder $39 million, according to ESPN.

Grant, 25, averaged 13.6 points, 5.2 rebounds and 1.3 blocks in 80 games (77 starts) for the Thunder last season.