Talen Horton-Tucker didn’t play a perfect game against the New York Knicks, but when his team needed him most, the second-year Los Angeles Lakers guard showed some major testicular fortitude, sinking a clutch 3-pointer with just seconds left to seal a 101-99 overtime victory.
Horton-Tucker’s team had some mighty praise for him after the game, most notably Kyle Kuzma, who commended the young gun for the “balls” he showed on the shot.
“Man, you know, THT made a huge shot. He’s got some big balls for that one,” Kuzma said in his postgame interview. “Stepback 3, nothing but net with the game on the line. It was just great.”
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) May 12, 2021
Horton-Tucker even got a special shoutout from LeBron James, who was on the sideline for the shot but had to tweet out his reaction, which was just “THT” followed by a bunch of exclamation points.
— LeBron James (@KingJames) May 12, 2021
Frank Vogel on THT: ‘He Really Stepped Up’
Horton-Tucker played 34 minutes — equalling his season-high —. scoring 13 points, serving up 10 assists and grabbing five rebounds. With Dennis Schroder and Alex Caruso out, THT became especially important against the stingy Knicks, serving as the team’s primary ball-handler down the stretch.
His inexperience showed at times, seven turnovers a testament to that. However, Lakers head coach Frank Vogel was happy that Horton-Tucker remained confident when it mattered most with the game on the line.
“He really stepped up. He had a young-player type of night, with a lot of good play, bad play situations, in particular down the stretch,” Vogel told reporters. “But I love that he kept his poise and didn’t get down on himself. He remained confident.”
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) May 7, 2021
What made the game-winner extra special for Horton-Tucker was that it came over Derrick Rose, his favorite player growing up.
“He’s got big guts,” Vogel said. “And he showed that with that shot against his favorite player growing up in Derrick Rose.”
A photo of Horton-Tucker and Rose together went viral earlier this season, showing a young THT taking in a photo opportunity with the former MVP. Horton-Tucker admitted after the game that it was a special experience to nail the shot while being guarded by his childhood idol.
How it started How it’s going pic.twitter.com/1q3pZsBXK3
— LakeShowScoop (@LakeShowScoop) April 13, 2021
“Not too many kids from Chicago can say that they did that,” Horton-Tucker said after the game.
Lakers Get Worrisome News on Anthony Davis
The Lakers could be without Anthony Davis when they wrap up the back-to-back stint against the Rockets on Wednesday. Davis hobbled to the finish line against the Knicks, getting hit in the face and feeling some tightness in his groin. He declared himself questionable after logging a team-high 43 minutes.
“Not sure about tomorrow,” Davis said. “Gonna get treatment and see how it feels.”
While Davis could be out, James could be back in. There was optimism that the Lakers would have James against the Knicks, but he decided to give himself one more day of rest.
LeBron James is going to give that right ankle one more day of rest today vs. Knicks — and target a return on Wednesday vs. Rockets, sources tell @mcten and me.
— Adrian Wojnarowski (@wojespn) May 11, 2021
James did go through a full practice on Monday, giving the team optimism about his condition.
“We did some drill work. We did some contrived scrimmages, and we did a short, full scrimmage,” Vogel said. “And he did all of it.”
The Lakers have just three games left and need some wins to stay out of the play-in tournament. They should find some success against the Rockets, who are the worst team in the NBA at 16-53 and have lost 16 of their last 18 games.
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