Jason Hart did exactly what Utah Jazz coach Jerry Sloan wanted him to do in Friday's 106-88 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers.
"He just played basketball. That's the main thing," Sloan said.
"And we needed that."
Hart, a former Clipper, scored 10 points and made three steals in his first game against his old team. He was called into duty midway through the first quarter when Deron Williams got into foul trouble.
"I thought he played very well. I thought he was alive defensively and worked real hard to keep people in front of him," Sloan said. "I thought he did a good job in our offense trying to execute the plays we were trying to get him to run. He just had a good solid game."
Hart made an immediate impact. He hit two shots in the first quarter and stripped the ball away from former teammate Sam Cassell, who he ran around with earlier in his career with Milwaukee and L.A.
"I've been with Sam since I was a rookie. ... To take the ball from him was great because he's always talking trash," Hart said. "It felt real good to get a good stop on him."
The friendly banter, he added, was expected.
"He brings out the best in me defensively," said Hart, who was especially pleased that the Jazz maintained their momentum when he replaced Williams.
Utah led by five at the time and upped its advantage to 11 by the time the first quarter was complete.
"There wasn't a drop-off," Hart said. "I was happy with that and happy with the second group."
The Jazz bench outscored the Clippers 35-25 in the rout.
"It was fun, especially to get the win. All of those guys are really good friends and to beat them was pretty good," Hart said of his reunion game against his hometown Clippers. "Obviously, you wish you could stay there. But if you can't stay, you beat your old team."
Sloan acknowledged there's probably something to be said for getting up to face a former team.
Kyle Korver can relate.
Shortly after being traded to Utah, he faced his previous employer the Philadelphia 76ers.
"Any time you're on the other side when you first see them it's just a little awkward," Korver said. "You had put on the other team's jersey so many times, it's a little weird.
"But it's something I think once the ball goes in the air, you kind of forget about," he explained. "You might have a little extra motivation, a little more energy or adrenaline, but that's really about it."
For the most part, Hart agreed.
"All the plays they were calling were the one I was calling," he said while noting six or seven months have passed since leaving the Clippers. "Looking at Mike (Dunleavy), it was kind of surreal. But that's the NBA and it isn't going to be the last time I play against former teammates."Before signing a free-agent deal with the Jazz last summer, Hart's NBA career included stints with the Bucks, Spurs, Bobcats, Kings and Clippers.
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