A lot was expected of third-year guard Talen Horton-Tucker coming into this season for the Los Angeles Lakers and so far, the results have been mixed.
Horton-Tucker missed the beginning of the season because of injury but looked to be at another level when returned with three straight games in double-digits including a career night in just his second game back.
But Horton-Tucker came down to earth after the fast start, reaching double-figures just once in the next eight games and struggling while trying to grow into the defensive stopper that Frank Vogel envisions him as. But the Lakers guard has quietly begun to turn things around recently with four straight double-digit scoring nights capped off by an 19-point, 6-steal performance against the Orlando Magic.
One big reason for Horton-Tucker bouncing back has been the support and advice of Lakers superstar LeBron James. “He’s been a huge part to it,” Horton-Tucker recently said. “Just trying to give me every bit of advice that I can get from him has been great.
“I feel like he’s always open to me trying to get the ball. Use him for screens and use him as a decoy to try and get open. Just being able to have him there being someone that’s kind of on my back giving me that push is always good and I appreciate it.”
James has been the biggest supporter of Horton-Tucker since the young guard burst onto the scene and has always backed him through his ups and downs, truly believing that Horton-Tucker has the potential to be a special player, as he recently tweeted about:
He’s so SPECIAL!!! He’s HIM https://t.co/rDIjp7SDXt
— LeBron James (@KingJames) December 14, 2021
That LeBron has basically taken Horton-Tucker under his wing shows how much he sees in the Lakers’ guard. But Horton-Tucker isn’t just inspired by the advice James gives, but the performances he puts on every night.
“He gives me energy because you see him doing it at 36,” Horton-Tucker added. “There’s no excuse not to do the same thing back. So just being able to have somebody like him and the other guys we have around, I feel like it’s going to do wonders for me.”
The Lakers have been trying to find the right combination of players to put around LeBron, Anthony Davis and Russell Westbrook and Horton-Tucker is among the best options with his ability on both ends of the floor. There have been some growing pains without a doubt, but Horton-Tucker has continued to push through and understands his role in helping out the Lakers’ three stars.
“Being on the court with them, I try to just focus on trying to help them as much as possible because they’re carrying a heavy load,” Horton-Tucker said. “Our job as other players on this team is just to try and make it as easy as possible. Feel like just trying to make it as easy as possible for them. Once they get going, everything opens back up like shots and the wealth gets spread pretty equally.”
Horton-Tucker enters NBA’s health and safety protocols
Unfortunately for Horton-Tucker, his opportunity to continue and help the Lakers’ Big 3 has now been delayed as it was announced the young guard tested positive for coronavirus (COVID-19) and has been entered into the NBA’s health and safety protocols.
Horton-Tucker will be out for the next few games as he isolates away from the team.
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