The story of the preseason for the Los Angeles Lakers thus far has been the play of Talen Horton-Tucker. But the second-year guard has undoubtedly benefitted from the absence of the Lakers’ superstar duo of LeBron James and Anthony Davis, both of whom have yet to play.
With such a short offseason, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel has been open about wanting to ease the All-Stars into this season and not ramp things up too quickly for fear of injury. Even with their plan to take things slow, the two are right on track to be ready for Opening Night.
“They’re not ready yet, but they will be on the 22nd,” Vogel said. “When we’re ready to start games, those guys will be ready to go.”
That game on December 22 will be against those same L.A. Clippers the Lakers defeated in their first two preseason games. In both contests regular Clippers starters Kawhi Leonard, Paul George, Patrick Beverley and Lou Williams didn’t touch the floor in the second half.
It is tough to balance not pushing James and Davis too much, but also pushing them enough that they’re in game shape for the start of the season. Vogel believes they are doing it perfectly so far.
“We’ve been trying to strike that balance of easing them in while at the same time making sure they get enough work to be ready for the regular season,” he added. “I think they both look really good. They’re probably not ready to play in a regular season game today but they’re both in pretty good shape and are going to continue to build up to the start of the season.”
Both James and Davis are expected to play in the Lakers’ final two preseason games against the Phoenix before the season opener next week.
Talen Horton-Tucker steals the show in Lakers’ second preseason victory
In the meantime, as James and Davis get up to speed, Horton-Tucker is showing he’s ready for a role. The second-year guard finished with 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, and four steals in the Lakers’ 131-107 victory on Sunday.
James and Davis may not have been on the court, but they couldn’t contain their excitement on the sidelines, cheering on Horton-Tucker as he dominated for the second straight preseason game.
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