The Los Angeles Lakers’ two-point overtime victory over the New York Knicks came with a ton of ups and downs as a whole, but no singular player exemplified that more than second-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker.
Left as the Lakers’ only remaining backcourt ballhandler, Horton-Tucker had a game-high 10 assists but also had a game-high seven turnovers with many of those coming late in the game and overtime. But with the game on the line and the Knicks defense focused on not allowing Anthony Davis to beat them, Horton-Tucker found himself with a chance to come through and he didn’t hesitate.
Horton-Tucker calmly stepped up and knocked down the game-winning three to give the Lakers a 101-99 win over the Knicks.
Just having the gall to take the shot after what had been a rough few minutes was credit enough for the young guard, but he had a simple response when asked about that last shot.
“I was more concerned about the turnover that I had just had. That was it honestly, I was trying to make up for it. Just being in that position I felt like ‘why not?’ The opportunity presented itself and I just tried to keep my confidence and good things happened.”
Those good things gave the Lakers their second-consecutive victory not to mention validating those who have heaped praise and confidence on the guard all season long. The shot also came over one of Horton-Tucker’s childhood heroes in Derrick Rose.
Both are Chicago-born guards who attended Simeon Career Academy. Rose is 12 years older than Horton-Tucker, who used to attend the latter’s basketball camps in the city. Hitting the shot over Rose made things even more special for the Lakers young guard.
“It’s big,” said of making the shot over Rose. “During the game at the moment I wasn’t really thinking of it like that, just trying to get the win. But after you look back and you just see it. Not too many kids from Chicago could say they just did that, so I feel like it’s a blessing just to be in this position and was able to do that.”
Horton-Tucker added that Rose is one of the players in the league that he’s always trying to learn from while playing against.
“I met D. Rose a long time ago growing up in Chicago and going to his camps and things like that. And then obviously me going to Simeon with him being who he is, the legacy that he left there. I’ve already known him pretty well and we had a pretty good relationship coming into the game. We text here and there but you know he’s always keeping it competitive when we’re on the court and I was just trying to learn from him and just from myself while I’m out there.”
The talent of Horton-Tucker has been apparent this season, but it has come with the growing pains that are to be expected from a player of his young age getting his first real minutes in the NBA. Injuries forced him into a greater and more difficult role than he would be afforded had the Lakers been at full strength and he struggled because of it.
But it says a lot that he didn’t allow that to affect him when it mattered most and because of that, the Lakers came away with their second straight win.
Horton-Tucker reminisces on meeting Rose for the first time
Injuries, unfortunately, cut the prime of Derrick Rose way too short, but in the city of Chicago, he remains an absolute legend who is viewed in the highest regard by those who came before and after him. That includes a young Horton-Tucker, who recalls meeting Rose at a very young age.
“I met him at the Adidas store when I was like eight. It was like right after he got drafted. they have things like that for No. 1 picks. So I went to meet him at the Adidas store and that was the first time. He got me like a free ball, that was actually kind of crazy. He got me a free basketball, it was legit.”
Some players can falter when going up against their idol, but Horton-Tucker was able to push through his issues to come up with the biggest shot of the night, which goes to show why the Lakers have so much belief in him and his potential.
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