Lakers find a silver lining in blowout loss

The Lakers did not give the sparse crowd inside Staples Center much to cheer about in their second game of consecutive tilts against the Utah Jazz last Monday, but they continued to see s star in the making. Those lucky enough to land tickets saw the injury-riddled Lakers get trounced by the Jazz 111-97 but they also saw Talen Horton-Tucker continue to look like he belongs in the NBA.

The play of Talen Horton-Tucker was a bright spot for the Lakers in an otherwise drab and abysmal performance. With the game seemingly decided, Horton-Tucker remained assertive while the team floundered. Horton-Tucker led all Lakers scorers with a career-high 24 points. He finished the night 8-for-13 from the field while going 3-for-5 from deep.

Horton-Tucker displayed why he is coveted around the league by General Managers in trades talks. His ability to consistently produce when given the opportunity is the next step in his development. Tucker-Horton has the confidence of his teammates and coaching staff in applying the advice, wisdom, and training he's gleaning.

Horton-Tucker's hyphen brother, and Laker teammate Kentavious Caldwell-Pope, gave him glowing remarks. "He's growing every day. The kid can score the ball. He's showing like a little bit like he can defend. I still got to get him, get his motor up on his defensive end, stay with the game plan. But he's been learning and applying it to games every day. When we have practice, just talking to the veteran guys. He is like a sponge and he's really applying it to his game, and we love him. Last year we threw him in the fire, and he showed what he can do, and he's continued to grow since then."

Horton-Tucker articulated why he takes well to the coaching, which has led to his improved play. "I feel like pretty much everybody is in my ear. Everybody is trying to tell me, I feel like, the right thing that they think that I should do and just tell me what they see. And I'm open to all input that I get, and I'm appreciative that they're taking the time out to just help me because you don't always get that."

"I feel like working with Phil (Assistant coach, Handy), and all the other coaches that we have has been great. I feel like everybody, I feel like they're trying to give me input and I feel like they're trying to help me. So just being able to have a group like we have here is just amazing for my growth as a basketball player."

Horton-Tucker has the talent and ability to be a key cog for the Lakers' championship hopes as their stars return from injury. There is not a coach or veteran on the Lakers that can drum up the effort and assertiveness with which Horton-Tucker plays with. It is either in you or it isn't. He has the coaching, he has the willingness to listen, he only needs the opportunity to produce.

The Lakers have yet to have the full complement of a healthy roster to compete against teams like the first place Jazz. As it stands now, the potential second round matchup would look entirely different with LeBron James and Anthony Davis in the lineup. Davis is scheduled to return to the lineup this week. James, who has been out nursing a high ankle sprain since March 20, isn't far behind Davis in his return.

They currently on a three-game road trip against Dallas on Saturday, Orlando on Monday and Washington on Wednesday. They return home on Friday, April 30, against Sacramento for a 7:30 p.m. game.

Follow Eric on Twitter @elambsquared


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