The Los Angeles Lakers lost to the Milwaukee Bucks 109-102 last night, as the team just didn’t have enough juice to overcome a monster 47-point performance from reigning Finals MVP Giannis Antetokounmpo. Even though it’ll go on the record books as an “L”, the game felt like a bit of a moral victory after such a poor performance two days prior against the Chicago Bulls. Without LeBron James, the team was able to get back into the game in the 3rd quarter despite a 15-5 run ending the first half that made it seem like the Bucks were going to pull away later. The team was able to compete to the final whistle because of their leading scorer, who wasn’t named “Russell Westbrook” or even “Anthony Davis”. No, the leading scorer was none other than Talen Horton-Tucker, who continues to impress in only his third game of the season with 25 points.
8/20 3Ps (40%) https://t.co/pj31VX3bvM
— don (@donny_mchenry) November 18, 2021
THT has started in all three games he’s played in, however, those starting lineups have been lacking LeBron who may come back to the lineup Friday against the Celtics if recent reports are any indication. When LeBron comes back, there’s a possibility that Talen Horton-Tucker could be bumped out of the lineup. However, Frank Vogel said after the loss against the Bucks that THT has “made a case” to be a starter even when The King returns.
Vogel says THT has "made a case" to remain in the starting lineup once LeBron returns
— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) November 18, 2021
Talen Horton-Tucker has shown nearly no rust after not playing a competitive game since the Lakers were bounced out of the 2021 NBA Playoffs, averaging 23.3 points, 7.3 rebounds, 2.0 assists, and 1.3 steals per game in his first three games back. He missed the team’s first 13 games of the regular season with a torn ligament in his thumb that he had to have surgically repaired (he’s been wearing a brace on it and appeared to have aggravated it towards the end of last night’s game but there was no news on that injury lingering after the game).
Talan Horton-Tucker on if he expected to take this kind of a jump from last season:
“Yes. I trust my work … the work I put in in the summer time.”
— Mike Trudell (@LakersReporter) November 18, 2021
Currently, the Lakers are putting out a starting lineup of AD, Carmelo Anthony, THT, Avery Bradley, and Westbrook. Vogel has enjoyed the added spacing the lineup has brought, however, he still seems to be entertaining the idea of the return of lineups with two big men. We’ll have to see what happens when LeBron comes back, but either way, Anthony definitely seems like he will be moving back to the bench. If Vogel re-inserts DeAndre Jordan (or Dwight Howard) back into the lineup, that would shift LeBron from the four to the three, causing Vogel to decide on THT, Bradley, or Ellington at shooting guard. THT has definitely out-played both of those players in terms of offensive production in his short time back, however, the other two players present an archetype more suited for a running-and-gunning shooting guard when compared to THT (either way it seems like Kent Bazemore may not be returning to the starting lineup any time soon).
Of course, Vogel won’t tip his hand to his starting lineup until it’s nearly five minutes to game time. If LeBron returns, we’ll find out about his multiple decisions with the starting lineup come game time when the Lakers storm into TD Garden to take on the Celtics.