Thursday, September 29 2022
Los Angeles Lakers guard Talen Horton-Tucker, right, is fouled by Golden State Warriors guard Klay Thompson.

Four veterans sat. Another got waived. The Lakers season, functionally over after being eliminated, still had to take the court — even if 80 percent of its once-projected starting lineup wasn’t available.

LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Carmelo Anthony all sat and the team cut Trevor Ariza — all while using their 40th different starting lineup of the season against the playoff-bound Golden State Warriors.

But in that void Talen Horton-Tucker delivered the best game of his career, a reminder of why the Lakers valued him this past offseason, scoring 40 in a 128-112 loss to the Warriors. It’s the third-year player’s career high.

It was against another reminder of how far the Lakers fell from their early-season goals.

There was a time early in the season when the Lakers imagined potentially closing games with James, Westbrook, Davis, Anthony and Ariza. Now, with the stakes completely removed, the Lakers played with nearly all of its star-power sidelined.

“LeBron’s ankle is still not ready. He wouldn’t be playing if we weren’t eliminated. And Anthony’s plantar fasciitis is causing him to limp around out there. So he’ll be out tonight and day-to-day,” Frank Vogel said pregame. “And Russ, him dealing with a shoulder thing that’s been slowing him down and we’re going to have him out tonight. And Melo has been trying to get over that stomach bug that he had last week and really hasn’t been quite fully recovered from that.”

Lakers guard Austin Reaves, left, talks with LeBron James during the first half Friday.Lakers guard Austin Reaves, left, talks with LeBron James during the first half Friday.
Lakers guard Austin Reaves, left, talks with LeBron James during the first half Friday. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

The Lakers play at home Friday against Oklahoma City, and Vogel wouldn’t say whether any of the team’s best would be on the court for the final time this season in Los Angeles.

“We’ll see,” Vogel said. “We haven’t ruled that out for any of those guys. We’re literally going to see how those guys are physically feeling tomorrow and make that call then. And we do recognize it’s fan appreciation day so we want to make sure that our fans feel appreciated.”

Earlier in the day, the team waived Ariza, creating an open roster spot that the Lakers intend to fill before the season ends on Sunday. But signing a new player and, potentially, signing him to a non-guaranteed contract for next season, the Lakers can use that player in potential trades.

It marked the end for Ariza’s second-stint with the Lakers, his preseason ankle surgery setting him instantly behind while keeping him from becoming the critical piece the Lakers had hoped he’d be when they signed him.

“The first half of the year he was either out or clearly trying to recover from that,” Vogel said of Ariza’s surgery. “And as the season got towards the end, he felt like it was bothering him very minimally. But it did derail most of his season and his impact on our team this year.”.

Ariza, 36, played in 24 games this season with 11 starts, averaging four points on 33.3-percent shooting.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel shouts toward officials during the first half Friday.Lakers coach Frank Vogel shouts toward officials during the first half Friday.

Lakers coach Frank Vogel shouts toward officials during the first half Friday. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook gestures to officials during the first half Friday.Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook gestures to officials during the first half Friday.

Lakers point guard Russell Westbrook gestures to officials during the first half Friday against the Golden State Warriors. (Jeff Chiu / Associated Press)

With an abbreviated roster, the Lakers started Austin Reaves, Stanley Johnson, Dwight Howard, Malik Monk and Horton-Tucker, leading by as many as nine before the Warriors pulled ahead in the second half. It was a strong performance despite being eliminated from the postseason the game prior.

But it was Horton-Tucker’s game that should be the most encouraging.

Before the game, Golden State coach Steve Kerr — who had suffered over a year-plus of losing before the Warriors returned to the playoffs. He said the key to navigating those final games is finding something to be excited about — and at least Horton-Tucker delivered on that.

“The most important thing was finding something late in the year, building some momentum and carrying that over to a great start this year,” Kerr said pregame. “I just think when you’re in a tough spot and you have injuries or whatever adversity knocks you back, you’ve got to be able to latch onto some hope. And where you find that hope is different in every set of circumstances.”

[embedded content]

This story originally appeared in Los Angeles Times.

Source: Yahoo Sports

Previous

Timberwolves rookie Anthony Edwards drops career-high 49 points in win over Spurs

Next

Tylor Megill on successful Opening Day start, pitching vs Juan Soto | Mets Post Game

Check Also

Pro Sports Media

Trending Now

Where exactly will the win-now Sixers need P.J. Tucker?

Where exactly will the win-now Sixers need Tucker? originally appeared on NBC Sports Philadelphia P.J. Tucker isn’t delusional. Sure, the 37-year-old is still viewed as vital for NBA teams with championship aspirations and laughing when he hears any suggestion about possibly tweaking his style of play during the regular season for the sake of prudence. But […]

Read More

NBA odds: Los Angeles Lakers, Nets, best over/under win total bets to make

By Ric BucherFOX Sports NBA Writer NBA training camps open this week, so it’s time for all the offseason social-media posts. We will get video clips of improved team chemistry (Brooklyn Nets), new skills (Russell Westbrook’s shot) and improved health (Jamal Murray’s knee). The resulting information will surely shift oddsmakers’ win total lines for the […]

Read More

Raptors ambassador Drake posts about Shai Gilgeous-Alexander on Instagram story

Reuters Videos Arrested ship captains in Indonesia decry corruption STORY: “I’m not a criminal but being in jail automatically identifies you as criminal. Maybe this time I feel ashamed but later on we will see…” Glenn Madoginog’s proud life as a ship captain was shattered this year, when he found himself in a cramped, cockroach-infested […]

Read More