Los Angeles Lakers third-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker spent nearly a week in the NBA’s health and safety protocols after testing positive just before the beginning of a three-game road trip. He missed the entire road trip and finally made his return against the Phoenix Suns on Tuesday.
Horton-Tucker was one of seven Lakers players to test positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) amid the ongoing team-wide outbreak. He was the first to do so, leading to a cancelled practice and enhanced protocols for the team. Getting him back means the Lakers are nearing the end of their significant health and safety protocol stint.
And while fans generally focus on the missed games and the positive tests, Horton-Tucker had to enter quarantine, worrying about symptoms that may or may not arise.
“For me it was more mental I feel like. I really didn’t feel too much but knowing that you have Covid, I feel like every person in their right mind would kind of be a little nervous after that,” Horton-Tucker said.
“But I feel like for me it was more mental than anything. The symptoms weren’t really something that affected me like that, but just being off and mentally being away from the game is something that is not really good for me. But it was an experience that I kind of needed.”
Luckily, Horton-Tucker avoided a symptomatic case. However, the mental anxiety surrounding a positive COVID test is nothing to brush off either. Especially as he likely continued to test positive for multiple days after his first test, each day in quarantine likely got a little more nerve-wracking.
Horton-Tucker finally got the good news that he was being cleared to return on Tuesday. His return against the Suns was less than ideal, though, as he scored just three points on 1-for-13 shooting and 0-for-8 from three.
Over the next few games, he’ll be able to get his rhythm back and continue impacting the Lakers in a positive way. It’s a huge step up for him after a week in an undeniably scary position.
Westbrook emphasizes need to stay together
During what has been a tumultuous time for the Lakers, Russell Westbrook gave some thoughts on how L.A. can approach things.
“I’m very optimistic. We’ve been through so much as a team already and still going through it as a unit. And the best part about it for me this far is just the ups and downs. That’s the NBA season. The most important part is that we stay together, never divide, never panic, never succumb to what the people on the outside of our team are saying.
“Just make sure that we stay close-knit and find ways to be able to stick together through whatever it is because we’re a team that doesn’t rely on excuses. We understand the circumstance that we have in our locker room and we got to make the best of it, it’s as simple as that.”
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