The momentum Josh Hart generated as a starter over the past month came to a grinding halt last week when he suffered a fractured of the fourth metacarpal on his left hand. Hart underwent surgery and is projected to miss a minimum of one month and up to six weeks.
The timeline the Lakers provided leaves open a remote possibility Hart will play again this season, though perhaps only with a handful of games remaining on the schedule. “We just have to take our time with it,” Hart said of his recovery.
“Not rush but make sure it’s fully back to where it was before I get out. It’s definitely disappointing but it’s a part of the game. I’m there to support my teammates the same as I have before.”
Further compounding the loss of Hart is the Lakers are also set to be without Brandon Ingram for the next three games because of a groin strain.
“Rebounding, for sure,” Lakers Luke Walton mentioned first when asked what void Hart and Ingram leave. “The versatility they both have. Josh is probably the best post-defender we have. So a lot of the times what we like to do is switch one through five. Get Julius out there and let him guard point guards.
“Having Josh and Brandon allowed us to do that without getting hurt from the wing position. Not having them, we’ll try it out, obviously it worked in San Antonio, but we don’t have that same type of player on the wing defensively. There’s not one thing, but there’s a lot we’re missing with them.”
Upon being inserted into the lineup, Hart set a career high with 14 rebounds against the Brooklyn Nets. He is averaging 6.6 points and 3.7 rebounds in 55 games (20 starts) this season. Hart’s 39.7 percent shooting from 3-point territory is best on the team.
“Beginning of the year, I wasn’t getting too many minutes or playing that well. The last month and a half, I’ve been more comfortable,” he said. “Luke has given me more minutes and a little bit of a bigger role, so that was nice. So it’s a bummer to happen now.”
Although disappointed he’ll miss a prolonged stretch of games, Hart is hoping to use the time off the court to make strides as a player. “Kind of take a different mental approach and try to sharpen your discipline and preparation for certain situations,” he said.