Josh Hart makes mark at guard
David West, the retired power forward who played with the Warriors last year, offered one part of the reason he’s retired in a Thursday night tweet.
Josh Hart, the Lakers 6-foot-5 guard, played him too tough when the Laker played the Warriors.
“Hips were tripping that night,” West wrote. “Time to hang it up bruh I said to myself in the game.”
On Thursday night, in a 128-123 win over the Sacramento Kings, Lakers Coach Luke Walton gave Hart his second start of the preseason at shooting guard. Hart is competing with Kentavious Caldwell-Pope to be the Lakers’ starting shooting guard. It’s Hart’s defensive capability that gives him his edge.
“With Josh last year every time he switched onto a big [man] we were good,” Walton said. “We kept our tight shell and we played good defense. We weren’t just sending a double team man over right away to try to take away that mismatch.”
Thursday’s game was the Lakers’ first win of the preseason and they did it in dramatic fashion. With the Lakers up by one with 38 seconds left in the game, Brandon Ingram stole the inbounds pass. It was just one of his critical plays as Ingram scored 31 points.
“I thought he was great,” LeBron James said. “I think he was great all game. His pace, his ability to play the point, play the wing. He’s a very special talent and I’m definitely happy to have him on our side.”
Hart added 17 points, the same as Kyle Kuzma, but his influence is often greatest on defense.
On a team that likes to switch assignments defensively, Hart’s ability to guard big men is unparalleled among the other Lakers guards.
On Tuesday when the Lakers played the Nuggets, Rajon Rondo tried at one point to help Hart guard 7-footer Nikola Jokic.
“He [said] ... don’t do that,” Hart said. “Let me rassle with him a little bit. … [I] tell the guards, cover yours and I’ll get this.”
Sometimes other teams’ big men will tap him on the hip during games as a sign of respect.
“I take pride down there,” Hart said. “I take it personally when big guys high post me up. That’s just me.”
Ball still out
Lakers point guard Lonzo Ball missed Thurday’s game and has not yet played in the preseason. Ball is recovering from arthroscopic knee surgery.
Follow Tania Ganguli on Twitter @taniaganguli
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