Josh Hart erupted for 30 points and seven 3-pointers, both of which are career highs, and the Los Angeles Lakers beat the Clippers, 115-100, to end the regular season on a positive note. Gary Payton II set career highs with 25 points and 12 rebounds off the bench.
Hart’s prolific shooting and offense helped make up for the absences of Lonzo Ball, Brandon Ingram and Kyle Kuzma, and the loss of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. Caldwell-Pope suffered an AC joint sprain in his right shoulder two minutes into the game and was ruled out for the remainder of the night.
Hart’s performance extended his streak of games with at least 20 points to four. He joined Donovan Mitchell, Kyle Kuzma and Josh Jackson as the only rookies to produce suck a stretch this season.
After scoring 14 points in the first half to help the Lakers to a 64-53 lead, Hart matched that production in the third quarter. Like Kuzma earlier this season, Hart’s seven 3-pointers fell one shy of tying D’Angelo Russell’s Lakers rookie record for most in a single game.
Hart added five rebounds and five assists while also knocking down all five free throw attempts.
The Clippers, who also were without several key contributors, never led by more than four points and trailed by as many as 22. Tobias Harris represented their only offensive threat, scoring 23 points on 9-for-15 shooting.
Although this is a fifth consecutive year the Lakers have missed the playoffs, their 35 wins are the most since the 2012-13 team won 45 games in a turbulent season that ended with a first-round playoff exit.
With Caldwell-Pope unavailable, it guaranteed Andre Ingram extended minutes. He failed to replicate the prolific performance from his NBA debut, however, and finished with five points on just 2-for-9 shooting. Ingram did add three rebounds and six assists.