The Los Angeles Lakers had one of their best performances on Sunday, dominating the Phoenix Suns for a 120-96 victory. Much of the focus was on the likes of Kyle Kuzma and LeBron James, but quietly it was Josh Hart who led the Lakers in plus-minus while playing just 18 minutes.
Hart had been struggling recently after a very strong start to the season, though some of that undoubtedly had to do with a lingering ankle injury. Nonetheless, his style of play has stood out to head coach Luke Walton.
“Josh Hart was a +32 with five shot attempts, which speaks to the type of basketball he plays,” Walton said following the victory.
“He was making winning plays all over the court. The plus-minus doesn’t always add up. There’s times when you’re on the court with other guys that are playing well and you finish with a good plus-minus.
“I thought it was directly related to how he played; fighting over screens, tagging on the weak side, getting a steal when they were hurting us early in the game with those rolls to the rim, making the extra pass. Everything we always preach about, he was doing those things, and he knocked down a couple shots, too.”
Knocking down shots has been crucial for Hart who has been the Lakers’ most consistent shooter this season, but it doesn’t seem to be the most important thing for Hart. “I think everyone likes to score (but) it’s not what’s most important,” Walton added.
“What’s most important is winning plays and winning games. I’m sure everybody wants to score but he sure seems lately he’s just been out there having fun, playing for the joy of trying to win. He’s put together a couple really nice games in a row for us.”
Scoring isn’t always the most important thing and Hart has the ability to impact a game by doing so many other things on the court. It’s the reason why he remains a crucial part of the Lakers’ success, even when he’s struggling offensively.