Hart's Career Night Leads Lakers to Season-Ending Victory
If we’ve learned anything about Josh Hart this season, it’s that he’s a gamer on and off the floor.
So it’s no surprise that, in the middle of his best game in the year, the rookie wing broke out a “Fortnite”-inspired, bandage-wrapping celebration.
When you've scored your career-high and the third quarter hasn't even ended pic.twitter.com/iNWhAugToC— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) April 12, 2018
But Hart wasn’t the one who needed the healing.
In fact, he was responsible for most of the damage done that night, as he dropped a career-high 30 points in the Lakers’ season-ending thumping of the LA Clippers.
Hart was unconscious from deep, hitting seven 3-pointers and missing only two. The Lakers got him rolling early on with a couple of well-designed sets.
Two minutes into the game, L.A. had Hart inbound the ball and immediately dart to the corner. Meanwhile, (everyone’s new favorite player) Andre Ingram surprised Hart’s defender with a back screen, freeing him for the open triple.
Then it was Hart’s turn to set an unexpected back screen, as the Lakers ran the Spain pick-and-roll, which requires a third player to put a pick on the big man’s defender.
If nobody picks up the rolling big, it’s an easy alley-oop. The Clippers did have a wing defender help cover Ivica Zubac, but Hart smartly popped out for a wide-open 3-pointer.
A scorching night for Josh Hart, who has a career-high 28 points and seven 3-pointers.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) April 12, 2018
That includes this Spain pick-and-roll, where Hart confuses the defense with a back screen before sneaking out for a triple. pic.twitter.com/orfTGZZppq
Hart — who shot a team-best 39.6 percent on 3’s this season — was then fully in his rhythm.
He hit five more 3-pointers on the night, mostly on spot-up attempts, which have been his forte this season.
But he was so deep in his zone that he was even able to splash two pull-up treys when isolated onto DeAndre Jordan and Tobias Harris.
That wasn’t the only time Hart made a big play at Jordan’s expense.
On this possession, he beat the 6-foot-11 center (who is second in the NBA in rebounds) on the boards before getting out in transition.
He pointed for Ingram to fill the corner knowing that the defender would have to choose to cover one of them. As soon as Rivers stepped toward Hart, he swung the ball to Ingram for one of his five assists on the night.
Just the possession that the Lakers needed after a slow start.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) April 12, 2018
Josh Hart beats DeAndre for the loose rebound, and some ball movement leads to a triple from (who else?) Andre Ingram. pic.twitter.com/A5Njg059qD
And Hart made sure to make a few plays on defense, too.
Just before halftime, he broke up an alley-oop attempt and got the ball back for an attempt to push his offensive limits.
One of Hart’s goals for the offseason is to work on his ball handling, and he worked off a nice pick from Thomas Bryant, pulling up for a rare mid-range bucket (just 9-of-29 this season).
Hart finished the season with four straight games with 20-plus points, becoming just the fourth rookie to have such a streak this year.
Josh Hart was everywhere last night, including this two-way play.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) April 12, 2018
He breaks up the alley-oop on one side of the floor before hitting a pull-up J out of the pick-and-roll with Bryant on the other.
: https://t.co/FQu7H9bqtj pic.twitter.com/bzXHWzVhOo