Reserves Dwight Howard and Talen Horton-Tucker make huge impact in Lakers' win
Dwight Howard was all set when his time was called, showing he was ready after not playing in recent games.
Talen Horton-Tucker had a strong game after struggling lately, showing he was not going to continue his poor performances.
Howard and Horton-Tucker were major factors off the bench for the Lakers in a 122-114 win over the Sacramento Kings at Crypto.com Arena on Tuesday night.
“Dwight was big tonight,” said Russell Westbrook, who followed a nine turnover game Sunday against Minnesota with zero against the Kings. “He hadn’t played in a while. Tonight, he did a good job using his size in the paint, rebounding the ball at a high level, protecting the paint. And Talen did a good job of finishing, taking his time, which was big for us."
Howard didn’t play in the previous two games, against Portland and Minnesota, but the veteran center didn’t let that become an issue.
When he entered the game Tuesday night, Howard gave his all.
He had a season-high 14 points and 14 rebounds, half on offense, giving the Lakers more scoring opportunities.
He had three assists and two steals, all in 21 minutes 35 seconds.
"Dwight definitely came in and gave us the energy and effort we needed,” LeBron James said. "He had a double-double in 21 minutes. It was everything we needed. As a professional obviously, we know it’s tough when you want to play and sometimes your number’s not called. But it’s also even more professional when you stay ready and your number’s called and you go out and produce. Definitely game ball to Dwight tonight and we needed every second of it.”
Horton-Tucker had 19 points on nine-for-13 shooting. He had four rebounds and six assists in 33:04.
He was aggressive from the start, attacking the basket and putting pressure on the Kings’ defense.
“I just try to control what I can control,” he said. “Just being in the position I am with the team we have, a lot of things are out of my control. So, the one thing I can control is just what I do on the floor and that’s coming out and trying to play as hard as I can. If I’m not making shots, do something else to try to fill that void. But for the most part, just trying to stay solid through it all.”
Horton-Tucker had gone into the NBA’s health and safety protocols Dec. 14, missing three games in the process.
When he returned against the Phoenix Suns on Dec. 21, his game was off from being out a week.
Over the seven games after Horton-Tucker returned from the protocols, he shot 34.6% from the field and missed all 16 of his three-point attempts.
Through that rough patch, Horton-Tucker maintained that his confidence never wavered.
“Just the type of person I am, I work so hard that I'd be upset with myself if something is not going right just because of the work that I put in and how you trust in yourself," he said. "But my confidence . . . I feel like that’s how I got to this point now. It’s never went anywhere. So, we’ll just continue to try to build on it.”
This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.