Los Angeles Lakers young guard Talen Horton-Tucker had a breakthrough in the 122-114 win over the Sacramento Kings, putting up one of his best performances in weeks with 19 points, four rebounds, and six assists.
Horton-Tucker has had a rough stretch of games since mid-November, struggling to make shots — especially from beyond the arc. Before the Tuesday win over the Kings, the 21-year-old went 0-for-16 from downtown in seven games. That included his infamous 1-for-13 performance in the blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns.
But against Sacramento, Horton-Tucker shot 9-for-13 from the field and made a triple on two attempts. Lakers superstar LeBron James said he enjoyed seeing his younger teammate “get back to himself” after the ugly slump.
“It was phenomenal, it was so rewarding,” James said. “It was amazing to see Talo be himself, get back to himself once again. His ability to score the ball, his ability to get into the lane and finish, shot-making ability, we’ve been missing that and he’s been missing it in himself as well.”
As for the advice James offered Horton-Tucker during the tough weeks, he said: “Just been telling him to be yourself, continue to be yourself and tonight he was that and we needed everything he gave us tonight.”
Head coach Frank Vogel said he never doubted that Horton-Tucker would eventually put his struggles behind him.
“It was just a matter of time before he was going to break out and become himself again,” Vogel said.
“He was terrific not just scoring the basketball, but I thought his defense was really good and a big part of us winning those backup minutes.”
Horton-Tucker never lost confidence despite cold streak
Talking about his cold streak, Horton-Tucker said he patiently waited until hard work took him out of his funk — never losing confidence in his skills and talent.
“I feel like I try to treat every game the same way,” Horton-Tucker said after the win. “Through those times where I wasn’t shooting the ball well, I still was going out there shooting so I didn’t lose any confidence at all, even if I played bad. So just being able to have a mindset like that around a group like this is gonna do wonders for me.
“So I feel like just staying positive is kind of what I did with my energy.”
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