Josh Hart may have gotten a taste of the spotlight and scrutiny that comes with playing for the Los Angeles Lakers, but that experience as a rookie pales in comparison to what’s unfolded in his sophomore campaign.
That is directly correlated to the Lakers signing LeBron James, which drastically altered the trajectory and expectations of the franchise. But nearly through a season that’s been marred by injuries, the Lakers are on the verge of seeing their playoff drought extended to six years.
“I think everyone in this locker room — except KCP, knock on wood — has missed games. It’s hard to get into a rhythm, hard to keep competing every day when you’re down bodies,” Hart said. “At the end of the day, we have to bring it with what we’ve got and just compete to the end.”
The Lakers aren’t mathematically eliminated from reaching the Western Conference playoffs, but they enter play Wednesday trailing the eighth-seeded San Antonio Spurs by 5.5 games.
“Just compete, execute and play hard,” Hart said of where the Lakers’ focus should lie. “You play harder than your opponent, execute better than your opponent, nine times out of 10 you’re going to come out with a win.
“You’ve got to be the best you can be. We want to make the playoffs. If that’s the goal, we don’t need motivation. If you’re not motivated with your back against the wall, everyone is counting us out. We’re probably the most-criticized team in the NBA. If that doesn’t motivate you, if that doesn’t get you up in the morning, gets you ready to go out and compete, nothing will.”
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