January 19, 2022

DCTRS

Damascus Center for Theoretical and Civil Rights Studies

Lakers had plenty in reserve with this trio in win

They were the magnificent three for the Lakers, a core of Montrezl Harrell, Kyle Kuzma and Talen Horton-Tucker who came off the bench and played at a high level Monday night.

They left an impression upon their leader, LeBron James, who praised the work of Harrell, Kuzma and Horton-Tucker for the short-handed Lakers in their 128-97 rout of the Golden State Warriors in San Francisco.

Harrell was the workhorse who provided the energy with a season-high 27 points on 11-for-14 shooting from the field. He also had five rebounds and three steals.

Kuzma displayed more of his all-around skills, scoring 17 points, grabbing five rebounds and handing out four assists. He was seven-for-11 shooting.

And the youngster of the group, Horton-Tucker, had his best game as a professional. He produced the first double-double of his career in delivering career high in points (18) and assists (10).

“Just high energy, high energy and it resulted in some very good plays for our ballclub,” said James, who had a triple-double with 22 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds, on Zoom after the game. “Trezz from the start was aggressive, finishing at the rim, finishing with and-ones, getting us second possessions. Kuz’s energy has been like this all year, so we expect that from him. And then THT [Talen Horton-Tucker] just came in and was very poised. He had a very poised game tonight, getting 10 assists and also attacking the rim as he’s done all year. Just being very efficient. So, they were great tonight.”

The Lakers continue to play without starters Anthony Davis (strained right calf) and Marc Gasol (health and safety protocols). They didn’t have key reserve Alex Caruso (mild concussion) and had to move Markieff Morris into the starting lineup.

That left the Lakers’ bench somewhat depleted.

But Harrell, Kuzma and Horton-Tucker were stars in their roles.

“Trezz is Trezz,” Kuzma said on a videoconference. “But, man, THT [Talen Horton-Tucker] had a hell of a game tonight, doing everything. Getting downhill, getting into the paint. That’s one thing that we’ve really been trying to talk to him — or I’ve been trying to talk to him about — is once he gets into the paint, he’s probably one of the two or three best players at penetrating the paint, and he’s so gifted to look weak-side, look strong-side and hit guys. And he did a great job of that tonight, to have 10 assists and scoring as well.”

Horton-Tucker, 20, played in just six games last season during his rookie year with the Lakers.

He has played in 35 games this season, and he’s leaving little doubt with his teammates that he belongs and will be in the rotation during the playoffs.

“He’s just a sponge,” James said. “Like you said, he don’t say much, but when you talk to him, you can tell that he’s listening. You can tell that it’s getting stored. And he applies it onto the floor, so you know that it’s getting through. So, he’s been really good. Obviously he’s going to hit a rough patch. He’s still young in this league. He didn’t really get any minutes until the bubble, so this is basically his rookie season and he’s going to learn from his mistakes and we’re OK with that. So, we’re delighted. We’re happy we got him.”

It seems as if Horton-Tucker is taking positive steps each time he walks on the court. He has been open to learning from all of his teammates and the coaching staff.

So, on a night when he shot seven for 10 from the field against the Warriors, Horton-Tucker is thankful for his lessons.

“I feel like the guys that are here right now, they’ve been through it. I haven’t been through anything yet,” he said after the game. “So just being able to listen to them is only gonna get me better. So, I just feel like you gotta have that approach when you’re around guys like this. Like I always say, I’m grateful for it. And just being able to come in and just helping any way is great for me.”