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As he recovers from an ankle injury, Josh Hart refocuses on his defense

As he recovers from an ankle injury, Josh Hart refocuses on his defense
Lakers guard Josh Hart steals the ball from Pacers forward Doug McDermott in the second quarter. (Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times)

After playing three games while hampered by a sprained ankle, Josh Hart felt more like himself in the Lakers’ win over Indiana on Thursday night.

Hart, though, didn’t attribute his quiet games last week to his ankle, but rather his energy.

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“Starting on the defensive end,” Hart said. “I take a lot of account for the last several games, I didn’t come in with a defensive mindset. No excuses. Definitely, myself, if I am out there, I got to help the team. Defensive energy, that’s every game, being consistent with that. Easy to do it a game here, a game there, but being consistent is a hard thing and we got to do it.”

On Thursday night, Hart had 13 points in 25 minutes with three steals and two assists.

“Josh Hart gave us an incredible spark off the bench,” coach Luke Walton said.

Hart was quiet Friday against Dallas, though, during eight scoreless minutes in the first half. He finished with just five points in 23 minutes but the Lakers were plus-10 with him in the game.

Jordan happy to have home

Mavericks center DeAndre Jordan spent his first 10 years with the Clippers and still has a house in Malibu. His home was spared by the Woolsey Fire that destroyed 1,643 structures in Los Angeles and Ventura counties this month.

“I stayed at my house the first time [we played here], but due to the Malibu fires, I wasn’t able to stay at the house” this visit, Jordan said. “It’s still standing, which is great. …It was very close.”

Jordan said it was tough to follow the fire from a distance, but he received updates from the fire station.

“It got some of my landscaping, but my house is good,” Jordan said.

Lukamania

Mavericks rookie guard Luka Doncic has garnered attention from everyone, including Walton.

“He gets it from every level of the court, from stepback threes to halfcourter against Houston like a regular jump shot,” Walton said. “He’s constantly finding shooters on the weak side, and not just finding them, he’s zipping the ball over there and putting it in their shooting pocket so it’s a rhythm shot for them. He looks more comfortable, he looks better. But he looked good last time we played against him, too. He’s an impressive rookie.”

Doncic missed nine of his first 10 shots Friday, but the attention doesn’t seem to be affecting him. Doncic blocked LeBron James’ shot twice on the same play and took a charge on James.

“It also shows that he played pro a while before he got here, because … the moment, and the crowds, and playing against these other stars doesn’t seem to really faze him much,” Walton said.

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Doncic had six points on two-of-13 shooting, six rebounds, five assists and three steals.

Balance of power

Once James left Cleveland to join the Lakers, Dallas coach Rick Carlisle said that “made the West considerably harder.”

The Lakers were seventh in the West entering Friday and the Mavericks, who also missed the playoffs last season, were eighth in a conference that had 10 teams with records of .500 or better, and four more teams just a game or half-game back.

“You can have a guy that is that good [and] all of a sudden flips conferences,” Carlisle said. “Hell, he may even end up in your division. We’re lucky he’s not in our division. But we’re still playing these guys four times this year.

“The way we got to look at it is, hey, it’s four opportunities to play against one of the best ever and to compete at the highest level and get our team better.”

Carlisle and Walton wore Craig Sager-inspired jackets again Friday night. The tribute is part of a fundraising effort for cancer research.

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