The Los Angeles Lakers had no choice but to put their faith in Talen Horton-Tucker to command the offense on Tuesday night against the New York Knicks. Anthony Davis was Frank Vogel’s go-to option as a scorer, but they were without LeBron James, Dennis Schroder and Alex Caruso, their top three ball handlers.
Horton-Tucker responded with a mixed bag of a game. He turned the ball over seven times, including two crucial ones in the overtime period. The first was an offensive foul and the second was a picked ball by Derrick Rose. However, he did have a double-double including 10 assists and ultimately hit the game-winning three in the final seconds.
Davis spoke about the confidence Horton-Tucker needed to make a play like that after the game he had. “I’m going to sum it up for you Mike [Trudell]. Come down, got a big turnover while we’re trying to run a set and turned it over. I think they hit a three, go up one. He comes down and hits a big three.
“The kid has confidence, he has a heart. Second year in the league, you don’t see that from a lot of players. For him to come off a turnover, we’re on him, because we’re getting closer to the playoffs, so we’re telling him you can’t make those mistakes to have the next-play mindset to hit a game-winning three is huge. That just sums up Talen right there.”
Vogel also credited Horton-Tucker for being a ball-handling presence when the Lakers were without all of their point guards, despite making several young mistakes. “Talen Horton-Tucker really stepped up. He had a young player type of night. A lot of good play, bad play situations. In particular, down the stretch and I love that he just kept his poise. He didn’t get down on himself. He remains confident.
“He got picked by Derrick Rose late in the game and then comes back in the next possession and bombs a stepback three to win the game. I think that tells you a little bit about him. I think it’s worth noting that Derrick Rose is probably his favorite player growing up coming from the Chicago area, same high school and somebody he really looks up to, so to see him have that type of moment I’m super happy for him.”
For Horton-Tucker to be willing to shoot that shot after turning the ball over on the previous possession says a lot about his mindset. “He’s got big guts. Let’s just say that. Big guts. He showed that with that shot,” Vogel concluded.
Now, there’s still plenty of discussion to be had about what role Horton-Tucker will play in the postseason when the games matter the most and the team is back to full strength. But for now, the Lakers seem to be happy with what they saw out of him on Tuesday.
At just 20 years old, mistakes are bound to be made. However, to have the confidence to make and take that type of shot in that moment of the game says a lot more about his future potential than the turnovers do about his current output.
Drummond finally felt normal in game against Knicks
In what ended up being a grinding, slow-paced defensive battle, Andre Drummond shined for one of the first times in a Lakers uniform. He had 16 points and 18 rebounds and said that was the first game he felt fully normal.
“I finally felt normal for once,” Drummond admitted. “Just kind of finding my rhythm while I’m out there. Doing what I do best. Rebounding the ball, kicking it out for threes and finishing in the paint when I get the ball.
“Like I told you guys before, I’m still trying to get a rhythm. It’s been two months since I’ve played and I’m on a new team trying to figure out a new role. These games or these practice games should give a bigger vision in sight, so these games I’m taking to really figure it out. Find my place and make sure it sticks”
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