Following a promising preseason that forced many across the league to take notice, Los Angeles Lakers young guard Talen Horton-Tucker hasn’t had quite the impact that some anticipated.
Due to the Lakers’ outstanding depth, Horton-Tucker’s minutes have fluctuated throughout the season, leading to some solid games, but also some underwhelming performances. But Horton-Tucker was a huge part of the Lakers’ most complete performance so far, totaling 17 points, five rebounds, three assists and four steals in a 120-102 victory over the Houston Rockets.
With Wesley Matthews sitting out, and Markieff Morris ejected in the first quarter, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel turned to Horton-Tucker for extended minutes.
“I feel like if you prepare yourself for the moment you don’t have to prepare yourself when you’re actually in,” Horton-Tucker said. “Always trying to stay ready and paying attention to the guys that are out there performing. Being able to come in and stay ready for a long year like this is something I’m going to have to do on a daily basis.”
The Lakers have 11 players they rely upon regularly in the rotation when fully healthy, which has led to constant changes in minutes. So far Horton-Tucker has played at least 20 minutes in six games, but also has two in which he’s logged 10 or fewer, another game in which he didn’t see the floor at all.
But whatever situation he is put into, Horton-Tucker is comfortable that he can contribute. “I feel like you can put me anywhere on the court,” he added. “You can put me with any group that we have and I feel like I can get some things done and just help us win a game. Just try to make winning plays on both ends.
“There’s not really a specific place I feel comfortable yet, because I’m actually kind of getting thrown in everywhere. Just being able to handle that is pretty good.”
The young guard has drawn immense praise from his teammates and coaches and one constant has been how receptive he is to learning from his veteran teammates, and that is something that doesn’t seem like it will be changing.
“I always say I just want to learn, so I feel like being a sponge is the most important thing. Especially with the caliber guys we have,” Horton-Tucker added. “Just being a sponge would be the key to me doing good things this year.”
Vogel pleased with Horton-Tucker assuming larger role
Horton-Tucker was thrust into a bigger role due to the Lakers being without other wings over the last couple of weeks. Alex Caruso and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope both missed a handful of games and Vogel was happy with what he got out of the young guard when he was needed for a bigger role.
“He’s carrying a much bigger load than he was earlier in the season. We haven’t had a lot of practice time, so all of our guys are struggling to really get their legs under them. Talen had some really good bursts,” Vogel said.
“We just love what that young man brings to the table in terms of his two-way productivity.”
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