Josh Hart eager to return to lineup and help Lakers reach defensive goals

first_img Newsroom GuidelinesNews TipsContact UsReport an Error AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREUCLA alum Kenny Clark signs four-year contract extension with Packers“He was in the training room getting treatment this morning,” Coach Luke Walton said, “so he feels better.”Hart still had a noticeable lump on his left hand, although he said it was no longer tender. Once he is back, he said, he’ll be back.“It’s not like it’s going to break again,” he said. “I think it’s just how much I can tolerate the pain and I just won’t tell them how much it hurts if it does.”A swingman who averages 6.6 points per game and emerged as the Lakers’ best perimeter defender, Hart joked he hoped to score 40 points in each of the remaining games in homage to Kobe Bryant, who in 2004 hit the mark in a record nine consecutive games.“That,” Walton joked, “is not a good goal. If he starts playing like that he will be on the bench. He’ll be watching us play defense.” The reality is that having Hart back could help the Lakers check off the remaining goals they have this season. Without a postseason run on the horizon, Walton challenged his team at the All-Star break to be a top-10 defense over the final 25 games.“We have those type of goals set up so even though the playoffs are not within reach, there are still things we are striving for,” Walton said.Entering Thursday, the Lakers ranked 12th over that span, allowing 105.6 points per 100 possessions. On the season, they rank 13th overall, allowing 106.2 per 100.It’s notable growth for a team that ranked in the bottom two in that category each of the past three seasons.“We want to be a top 10 defensive team,” Hart said, “and that’s something I pride myself on and I want to go whenever I’m out there I want to help on the defensive end.”center_img EL SEGUNDO — With his team recently on the road for nine days, Josh Hart filled his time with video games and physical therapy. When the Lakers played, Hart watched from his living room.“It was weird because obviously I watched the games and that kind of thing,” Hart said. “But you kind of don’t feel like a part of it. … For a minute I forgot I was on the Lakers. I’m like, those guys look good out there. I forgot (that was the team) I’m on. I play for them, I’m No. 5 for them.”This week brought good news for the rookie from Villanova, who has been sidelined for the past 14 games with a broken bone in his left hand. After playing three-on-three on Tuesday, Hart was upgraded to questionable for Friday’s game against the Milwaukee Bucks and could be thrown into heavy action immediately.The Lakers announced Thursday that Lonzo Ball will be questionable against the Bucks after an MRI confirmed the rookie point guard suffered a left knee contusion in the Wednesday’s win over Dallas.last_img

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