After two consecutive losses without LeBron James, Josh Hart and the Los Angeles Lakers redeemed themselves against the Sacramento Kings to conclude 2018.
Although the Lakers trailed for most of the game, Hart’s career-high 17 points in a single half kept them within striking distance through the first two quarters. In the 121-114 win over the Kings, he finished with a season-high 22 points, 7 rebounds and 3 assists in 40 minutes.
With the young core ending a 13-game losing streak for teams when James does not play, Hart reflected on the team’s two losses despite having double-digit leads.
“We gave up one that we should’ve had, then we were up 10 to the Clippers last game, so we need we had to bounce back,” he said. “We had to grow up, man up and take defense personally, and execute on the offensive end.”
As the Lakers only attempt 31.3 three-pointers per game (15th in NBA), they took 14 more which is more than what the Houston Rockets average (42.6, first).
“I like it. Shooters shoot,” said Hart, who went 3-of-8 from the three-point line.
“The good thing about it is a lot of them were open shots. Obviously, there were a couple that were contested but we were able to do a good job of getting the ball inside out, finding each other when we were open, so I liked it.”
Through 37 games of the 2018-19 NBA season, one major theme has been referees calling fouls against Hart but rarely for him. To close 2018, it worked in his favor twice.
“It felt amazing. I was mad one time because I tried to foul. It was the first time this season I actually tried to foul somebody and didn’t get the call,” Hart said.
“They didn’t call a foul on me. I was like, ‘Dang.’ All the other times I don’t try to get a foul called. The one time I tried to foul, I can’t get it. It actually happened twice.”
With James reportedly expected to miss ‘several’ games with a ‘significant’ groin strain and Rondo expected to miss 4-5 weeks after hand surgery, Hart was asked about his current mindset.
“To not think about it. Just be aggressive and take what the defense is giving you. I think that’s the biggest thing.”
At 21-16 and sixth in the ever-changing Western Conference, Hart’s goals for 2019 are simple. “Just continue to grow, continue to mature. We’re competing,” he said.
“Now we’re starting to get the attention to deeper aspects of it. Just expecting to grow and mature in those aspects.”
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