LOS ANGELES – Anthony Davis “forced his will” and Talen Horton-Tucker regained his skills as the Lakers returned from a disappointing loss to beat the San Antonio Spurs 114-106 on Sunday.
Davis scored 27 of his 34 points in the first half, accounting for his biggest scoring half since December 2019, adding 15 rebounds and six assists. Horton-Tucker, who underwent surgery to repair ligaments in his right thumb during training camp, played for the first time this season, scoring 17 points on 7-of-14 shots, rewarding coach Frank Vogel for putting him in the starting lineup.
The pair helped the Lakers respond after they went 40-12 in the third quarter of Friday’s home loss to the mid-sized Minnesota Timberwolves.
“Anthony really imposes his will on this game,” Vogel said of Davis. “I think he, probably more than anyone else, was unhappy with how the last match went and he intended to impose his will.”
LA’s big big man turned his focus to Horton-Tucker, who along with Carmelo Anthony gave the Lakers a fresh starting lineup along with Davis, Russell Westbrook and Avery Bradley. Kent Bazemore and DeAndre Jordan, who had been regular starters this season, did not play at all.
“Getting out in his first fight and doing what he did was unreal,” Davis said of Horton-Tucker. “I’m impressed. His first fight and getting in and doing what he did to help us win was huge and a sign of his hard work. A lot of guys usually come back and are a little rusty, but he came in. as he had been playing with us all along. “
Horton-Tucker, who signed a $ 32 million three-year extension with the Lakers in the offseason, had one of the game’s biggest buckets when he scored on a finger-throw with 2:14 left in the fourth quarter to put LA up. with four and give his team some respite after the Spurs had reduced the Lakers’ lead at once by 14 points to two.
Vogel would not commit to whether the 20-year-old Horton-Tucker would remain in the starting lineup, but promised to continue finding playing time for him.
“We’ll see,” Vogel said. “He’s going to be a big part of what we do, though. We know that. We invested in him this summer for a reason. We have a strong belief in the young man and what he can do on both sides of the ball. “Obviously, when we become whole, we have a lot of good choices, but he’s going to be a big part of it.”
Vogel said he hopes Horton-Tucker can guard the opposing team’s best perimeter player on a regular basis, and even though he had stolen and blocked and pulled two charges on Sunday, Horton-Tucker said his defense could get better.
“I feel like I could have been a little bit better, but I had some great moments and I’m just happy about that,” he said. “It’s something I have to do this year, so I’m just trying to lock myself in.”
After dealing with a host of injuries throughout the early part of the season, the Lakers are starting to get some good news on the health front. In addition to Horton-Tucker’s debut, Wayne Ellington (15 points) scored double-digit for the second time in the last three games after missing the first eight games of the season due to a hamstring injury, and LeBron James, who has been out in the past. six matches with a sprain in the abdomen, appears to be close to a return.
“Soon,” a source close to James told ESPN when asked about James’ return schedule.
The source said James is “progressing fantastically” in his training sessions on the pitch. Vogel said, however, that the 19-year-old veteran has not yet participated in a full practice or participated in contact exercises.
LA hosts the Chicago Bulls in the second leg of a back-to-back Monday and then embarks on a five-game tour through Milwaukee, Boston, Detroit, New York and Indiana.
“One day at a time, that’s all I can tell you,” said Westbrook, who finished with 14 points, 11 rebounds, 7 assists and 7 turnovers when asked if the Lakers could be ready to finally put together a race. “We hope so, but just take it one day at a time, slowly get the guys back and get into a rhythm.”