Walton: Hart's Hamstring "Good"

by Mike Trudell
Lakers Reporter

After an offseason rise that included being named Summer League MVP, Josh Hart worked his way into the starting lineup for two preseason games and had the Lakers quite excited about his sophomore campaign.

On Monday morning, there was at least temporary pause when Hart tweaked his hamstring early in practice and headed to the locker room. However, it seems to have truly been a tweak.

Luke Walton relayed after Tuesday’s practice that Hart appears to be OK.

“He’s good,” said the coach. “He wanted to practice today, but it was tight still, so I told him to just sit out and watch, make sure that he stays healthy. He’s very important to what we do, so we want to start the season as healthy as can be, so it was more just being safe today and not letting him go.”

Hart is officially listed as questionable for Wednesday evening’s game in Las Vegas against Golden State, but Lakers players typically haven’t played in games the day after missing practices with injuries.

In starts against Denver and Sacramento last week, Hart averaged 15.5 points, 4.0 rebounds and 2.5 assists in about 30 minutes per game. That’s in line with his averages in 23 starts as a rookie, when he posted 13.3 points, 6.0 rebounds and 2.0 assists in 31.9 minutes per game. While his scoring – particularly on straight line drives to the rim capped by strong finishes as well as 3-pointers –rebounding and defensive effort are there every night, Walton loves his intangibles the most.

“He was very important to our team last year and he’s continued to get better ever since we had him,” said Walton. “The way he works, what he does so well are the little things. The little things that help teams win that a lot of times don’t go down on stat sheets, those are the things that in my opinion make Josh special.”

The next and final preseason game for L.A. comes on Friday evening in San Jose, also against the Warriors. The first regular season game is on Oct. 18 at Portland.

If Hart doesn’t play on Wednesday or Friday, he’d have nine full days between Monday’s practice on Oct. 8 and the season opener to get ready to roll.

As his coach said, the Lakers need as much Hart as they can get.

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