Japan forward Rui Hachimura returned from concussion protocol to score a season-best 24 points Wednesday in the Los Angeles Lakers' 128-94 loss to the Houston Rockets.

Hachimura came off the bench to lead the Lakers in scoring, going 10-for-14 from the field along with eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and a block in 25 minutes at Houston's Toyota Center.

The Rockets led 32-19 after the first quarter before extending the advantage at each break to run away comfortably, propelled by 28 points from Jalen Green.

Rui Hachimura of the Los Angeles dunks the ball during a game against the Houston Rockets in Houston, Texas, on Nov. 8, 2023. (Getty/Kyodo)

"I was just watching the game at the beginning in the first quarter and it was wide open, nobody was in the paint, so that's what I just did naturally. That was my mindset," Hachimura said.

"We've been saying for the whole season the first quarter is the key.... As a team we've just got to be more together, we've just got to stick together."

Hachimura had been out since taking a shot to the face in the Lakers' Oct. 29 loss to the Sacramento Kings. He was originally sidelined for a left eye contusion before being placed in the NBA's concussion protocol.

"I missed a couple of games but during that time, I was able to watch the games and see where I can fit on this team," Hachimura said. "I was just playing harder today and energizing the team coming off the bench."

"(While being sidelined) I was preparing by playing 4-on-4 and 5-on-5 with young guys in the team. I simply wanted to provide some impact today."

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