Hart's Two-Way Game Leads Lakers to Third Straight Summer Win
LAS VEGAS — Tuesday in El Segundo, Magic Johnson sung Josh Hart’s praises on TV. That night in Vegas, he saw the kid work in person.
“Josh Hart is tearing the summer league up from behind the 3-point line,” Johnson said on Spectrum SportsNet while discussing the Lakers’ addition of LeBron James.
A few hours later, Magic had a courtside seat as Hart sliced up New York’s defense, dropping 27 points while hitting four triples in the Lakers’ 109-92 summer league win over the Knicks.
But Hart’s biggest impact came on the defensive side.
New York lottery pick Kevin Knox — who put up 29 points on 22 shots — suddenly couldn’t miss in the third quarter, rallying his team from a 25-point deficit into a two-point lead with eight minutes left.
Hart had enough. He told summer league coach Miles Simon he wanted to put an end to Knox’s spree.
“The thing I wanted him to be here (at summer league) was a leader, and that was a leadership moment for him,” Simon said. “He came to me at the end of the third quarter and said, ‘Let me take him.’
“I love to see a guy take ownership of something. … Josh took on that task and really took him out of the game.”
Alex Caruso also had his say. Over the course of just 38 seconds in the fourth quarter, Caruso: put his body on the line for a loose ball; got a stop on Knox; blocked a shot; and took a charge on Knox.
“I feel like today I really controlled the game in the ways that I do,” said Caruso, who had 10 assists and a +41 plus/minus. “Defensively, setting up my teammates, getting the other team off their game.”
Alex Caruso put on a clinic in defensive intensity toward the end of the 4th quarter.— Joey Ramirez (@JoeyARamirez) July 11, 2018
In one 38-second stretch, he:
- Full-body dives for a loose ball.
- Locks up a red-hot Kevin Knox.
- Blocks Troy Williams' layup.
- Takes a charge on Knox. pic.twitter.com/ozESgTkgto
With Hart and Caruso hounding him the entire time, Knox shot just 1-of-6 in the fourth quarter, also committing three turnovers. Meanwhile, the Lakers finished the game on a 29-10 run keyed by six points apiece from Hart and Svi Mykhailiuk.
With their fourth-quarter surge, the Lakers — who lost all three of their games at the California Classic — finished pool play at the Las Vegas Summer League with a 3-0 record.
They have secured the top seed heading into the tournament section, and will have a first-round bye.
Moe Wagner left the game nine minutes in with a left knee strain and left ankle sprain. … Jeff Ayres scored 17 points on 7-of-7 shooting, while Nick King added 15. … The Lakers shot 48.0 percent from the field and hit 27 free throws, scoring 109 points in a 40-minute summer game.
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