It was a rough night for the Los Angeles Lakers role players as they struggled to find much rhythm or energy in the team’s blowout loss to the Phoenix Suns.
The Lakers actually kept it close throughout the first half, but things went into a tailspin after Carmelo Anthony was ejected after picking up his second technical foul and LeBron James sprained his ankle again. Los Angeles only managed to score 38 total points in the second half and wound up suffering another blowout loss to a Phoenix team that looks like a legitimate title contender.
Even though the Lakers lost, they did finally receive some good news prior to the game as Talen Horton-Tucker and Dwight Howard cleared health and safety protocols and were available to play against the Suns. Horton-Tucker was immediately re-inserted into the starting lineup but contributed close to nothing in his 31 minutes on the floor.
Horton-Tucker scored a measly three points to go along with two rebounds and an assist while shooting 1-for-13 from the field, After the game, he admitted that it was poor performance on his end, although that can be attirbuted to being in quarantine for a week prior.
“First game back, I didn’t play to the best of my ability. Being out for that week I feel like it kind of stops you for a minute. I was trying to build some momentum back going into the last few games and then you get hit with the protocol and you kind of got to sit at home and be isolated by yourself for the whole week and not touch a basketball, not do anything. Yesterday was my first day out of the protocols and really today is my first official day, but just trying to get back into the groove of things and get my rhythm back and catch my legs, my breathing. There’s a lot that goes into it.”
Aside from his first outing after exiting protocols, Horton-Tucker also detailed when he was able to exit protocols and how much basketball work he was able to get in before playing in the game.
“Well yesterday was my first day, but I didn’t go outside yesterday so honestly today was my first day outside then back into the rhythm of things. So I didn’t get a chance to do anything, I was just kind of right back into the fire. Just being able to get out there and get my rhythm back in a game like this is fine. We still got a lot of games left. I just did my pregame stuff when I came in that I normally do and that was pretty much it.”
The 21-year-old had started to show improvement before ultimately coming down with coronavirus (COVID-19), so it makes sense why he would struggle in his first game after not playing basketball or even being outside for an extended stretch. The Lakers have been clear that they are expecting great things from Horton-Tucker this season, though nights like tonight require some patience as he works himself back into game shape.
Horton-Tucker was not the only role player who struggled, however, as several others could not get their own looks to go down. Trevor Ariza was the lone bright spot off the bench as he hit all four of his field-goal tries including a perfect 3-of-3 from downtown.
It is hard to see Horton-Tucker having a worse game the rest of the way, but the Purple and Gold will need more than him to step up in order to pick up a much-needed win.
Horton-Tucker not frustrated by being in protocols
While it can be easy for a player to get frustrated when being placed in protocols and having to isolate for a week, Horton-Tucker understands that it’s part of being an NBA player during a global pandemic.
“It’s our job, we’re professionals,” Horton-Tucker said. “There’s ups and downs of our job and the business of things. So just being able to be prepared for that is something we always got to do, it’s kind of what we signed up for. So just being ready for it is something we got to be doing.”
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