Josh Hart has not played well lately, but he avoids criticism more than any other member of the young core the Los Angeles Lakers have assembled. It’s probably some combination of where he was drafted, his lovable personality and no-frills skill set, but he simply doesn’t receive the scrutiny that Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram or Kyle Kuzma get.
But Hart expects more from himself, even if you don’t.
“We needed a win, and I was frustrated the last three or four games with myself and how I played because I didn’t give this team energy. I didn’t give them a spark. That was the only thing I was going into this game thinking”, Hart said after an exciting 107-97 comeback win against the Dallas Mavericks.
Josh Hart played the most well-rounded game of his career to give the Lakers a "spark" against the Mavericks. @LakerFilmRoom breaks down what made him so impactful:https://t.co/ivWdZT0a3e pic.twitter.com/oBXny7zfC2— Silver Screen & Roll (@LakersSBN) January 8, 2019
Hart played the entire second half and put up the most well-rounded stat line of his career, tallying 14 points, 12 rebounds, 6 assists (career-high), and 5 steals (career-high) while registering as a +16 in 44 minutes. He flourishes alongside shot creators, and no one has missed Lebron James more than he has as a result, but his performance on Monday night illustrated the breadth of his impact when he’s assertive.
Hart’s defensive role changed drastically from one half to the next. He was tasked with chasing Wes Matthews — who’s shot 45 percent from 3-point range against the Lakers the last two seasons — around screens, where he did an excellent job of staying attached. He was asked to check Luka Doncic for much of the second half, and did well to limit Doncic’s attempts through determined ball denial.
Josh Hart’s life will get a lot easier when James comes back, but he doesn’t need anyone else’s permission to impact the game the way that he did against Dallas. And maybe he could use a little more in the way of expectations, because he’s capable of playing like that on a regular basis.