With the Los Angeles Lakers 1-5 and reeling without LeBron James and Rajon Rondo, Josh Hart and the young core responded with a 107-97 win over the Dallas Mavericks that gave them a sweep of the three-game season series.
Coming off a 108-86 loss to the Minnesota Timberwolves, the Lakers found themselves down 15 points on the second night of a back-to-back situation.
While it would have been easy to think about their next game against the Detroit Pistons, Hart made winning plays as Brandon Ingram and Lonzo Ball responded to head coach Luke Walton’s criticism of them needing to play with more ‘passion and fire.’
With the Lakers having a blueprint on how to win games without James and Rondo now, Hart discussed his mindset heading into the Mavericks game, via Spectrum SportsNet:
“We needed a win. I was frustrated the last three or four games with myself and how I played, because I didn’t give this team energy and I didn’t give them a spark. That was the only thing I was going into this game thinking. I didn’t care about shooting. I didn’t care about making shots, touches, play calls, nothing like that. I controlled what I could control, and that was my energy, that was being being a little junkyard dog out there and just helping this team get a win.”
For a majority of young players, their ability to score usually dictates the rest of their game. While Hart was only 5-of-13 shooting from the field, he finished with 14 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists and 5 steals in 44 minutes.
He led the team in rebounding and steals, tied with Ingram for the lead in assists, and perhaps most impressive, played the entire second half.
As the Lakers play three of their next four games at home, they have a two-game lead on the Utah Jazz, who are currently in the ninth spot. With James set to be re-evaluated Friday, he will miss at least two more games with a groin strain.
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