Talen Horton-Tucker shined in his season debut for the Los Angeles Lakers, scoring 17 points against the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday afternoon.
Head coach Frank Vogel entrusted Horton-Tucker with a spot in the starting lineup upon his return even though he spent the last three weeks nursing a thumb injury. But the 20-year-old guard showed no signs of rust, shooting 7-of-14 from the field, collecting four rebounds and ending the night a game-high +14 in 27 minutes on the floor.
Even though Horton-Tucker needed surgery to fix the damaged ligament in his thumb, the Iowa State alum said he wasn’t thinking about the just-healed injury during the game.
The guard appeared satisfied with his performance, although he admitted that he could have done a better job on the defensive end.
“After tonight, I feel like I could’ve been a little bit better, but I had some good moments, and I’m just happy to be back. That’s something I had to do this year, really trying to lock into.”
Horton-Tucker added he isn’t concerned with keeping his place in the starting lineup. The Lakers guard said he will play with the same mindset regardless of what role Vogel sees him perform this season as he was just excited to be back on the court.
“Being able to play here at STAPLES. It’s a real feeling. Just being able to be with my teammates again. I always tell everybody, like just with the group we have, actually being able to get out there and play with them is a blessing for me, so I’m just appreciative of it.”
LeBron James could follow Horton-Tucker in injury return
The tides seem to be turning for the Lakers on the injury front. LeBron James could soon follow in the footsteps of Horton-Tucker and return onto the court after nursing his sprained abdomen for over a week.
Ahead of Monday’s clash against the Chicago Bulls, Vogel said the four-time NBA’s timeline for a comeback will be “day-to-day” moving forward.
“[H]e looks good, he’s moving,” Vogel said. “He hasn’t done a full practice or contact yet but he’s looking good, moving around in his individual work.”
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