Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker went through an emotional rollercoaster over the last week, which concluded with a game to remember on Saturday.
The 20-year-old averaged 16 points a night in an impressive three-game stretch before the NBA hit him with suspension for the incident in the 110-101 win over the Toronto Raptors. Horton-Tucker didn’t even engage in the scuffle between Dennis Schroder and OG Anunoby, but he left the bench and entered the floor as it was unfolding, earning him the penalty.
And after sitting out the game as punishment for the first time in his short NBA career, he found himself in the starting lineup for the blockbuster clash with the Brooklyn Nets on Saturday. Horton-Tucker ended the night with a career and game-high 11 assists in addition to 14 points as L.A. cruised to a blowout 126-101 win over the Eastern Conference giants.
After the game, the young guard couldn’t hide his gratitude for the chance he received and everything that followed. “It’s a blessing for me to be in this opportunity,” he said. “I feel like that’s something that I want so just being able to get that early on in my career and get that chance and opportunity, I’m grateful.”
Horton-Tucker owned up to the mistake that led to his absence in the Thursday game against the Miami Heat. The guard thought it didn’t have a profound impact on his Saturday performance but admitted the punishment worked as a motivator ahead of the Nets showdown. “The way it impacted my play is it just held me off the court,” he said.
“You hold me off the court and I’m gonna be excited to play basketball again. So I feel like it was a lesson learned and just something that I feel like I had to go through early in my career, so it was good.”
And he added: “Not playing the last game, we almost won, so mainly just wanted to come out tonight and just be aggressive and do everything that I can.”
Frank Vogel hails team effort in Nets win
Head coach Frank Vogel oozed pride after the impressive victory on Saturday.
When asked who particularly stood out against the Nets, he offered a nine-player-long list including each of the nine Lakers who clocked in more than three minutes during the game. “It’s really hard to call out one or two guys,” he explained.
“Everybody that played contributed at a super high level. … Just a complete team effort. It’s tough to single out one guy.”
Have you subscribed to our YouTube channel? It’s the best way to watch player interviews, exclusive coverage from events, participate in live shows, and more!