With the Los Angeles Lakers missing All-Stars LeBron James and Anthony Davis due to injuries, their teammates are expected to step up in their absence as they try to remain competitive. That was certainly the case in their 111-94 loss to the Phoenix Suns on Sunday, as Lakers coach Frank Vogel gave his other players more time on the floor and more scoring opportunities.
One of them is sophomore Talen Horton-Tucker, who finished with 17 points, six rebounds, and three assists while making six of 16 shots in 28 minutes of play. That put Horton-Tucker on par with Kyle Kuzma, who also attempted a team-high 16 shots and finished with 13 points to go with six boards and six assists.
After the game, Vogel said that with LeBron and Davis still out for some time, fans can expect to see Horton-Tucker get more opportunities to score as he did against the Suns (via Lakers reporter Mike Trudell).
Frank Vogel said that in the absence of LeBron and AD, we’ll see more of Talen Horton-Tucker, who matched Kuzma with 16 FGA’s tonight: “It’s a great growth opportunity … I like his aggressiveness, and he’s really going to grow during this stretch.”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) March 22, 2021
The 20-year-old Horton-Tucker was one of four Lakers in double-figure scoring, along with Kuzma, Montrezl Harrell, and Dennis Schroder, as the defending champions fell to 0-2 this season without both LeBron and Davis in the lineup. But despite the loss to the Suns, the Iowa State product said that he’s looking to make the most out of his extended playing time.
Talen Horton-Tucker wants to use this opportunity with extended playing time to “be a sponge” and “learn from my mistakes.”
— Lakers Nation (@LakersNation) March 22, 2021
With the Lakers reeling from the absence of their two main guns, Vogel has put his trust in young players like Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker, who are expected to play bigger roles in their future assignments. Even if they won’t always end up with a win, their growth will certainly help the Purple and Gold in the long run when LeBron James and AD return for their postseason push.