In wake of the Brandon Ingram injury on Wednesday, Los Angeles Lakers head coach Luke Walton started Josh Hart against the San Antonio Spurs, who prior to Friday had only started three games this season.
The Lakers ultimately fell to the Spurs 133-120, in part due to the fact that DeMar DeRozan, Hart’s defensive assignment, was getting almost anything he wanted on the court. DeRozan ended the game with 36 points on 55 percent shooting from the field as well as 8 rebounds, 9 assists and 2 blocks.
Despite this, Walton told Spectrum SportsNet that he thought Hart fit well with the first unit:
“He was good. I’ll watch the tape to have a better opinion on that, but his biggest challenge tonight was defensively. We had him on DeRozan and Rudy, so I thought a lot of his efforts were going there and we can do a better job of getting him more looks, but I thought he was pretty good with that group.”
Unfortunately, the box score said otherwise.
Not only did Hart make just 3-8 shots on Friday, but he finished with a net rating of -12, the third-lowest among anyone that played more than 20 minutes. Kentavious Caldwell-Pope (-29) and LeBron James (-25.6) were considerably worse.
However, it’s too early to evaluate Hart’s impact on the starting lineup, and single-game net rating isn’t necessarily the best metric to do that with anyway. For some reason, the Spurs have had the Lakers’ number all season, DeRozan especially.
Through four games against his hometown Lakers, DeRozan averaged 32.5 points, 8.8 rebounds, 8.5 assists and 1.3 steals per game. He’s been nearly unstoppable.
Hart will have the chance to bounce back on Saturday, when the Lakers visit the Memphis Grizzlies at the FedEx Forum. If Garrett Temple goes off for a career night, it might be time to re-evaluate the starting lineup.
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