Things may not have gone as planned so far, but there could still be some magic in store for the defending champions.
Horton-Tucker, playing point guard down the line with Dennis Schroder still sidelined due to league health and safety protocols and Alex Caruso leaving the game early with a sore right foot, had back-to-back turnovers in OT, to bounce back by hitting the green light at 3 points with 21.1 seconds left to lead LA to victory.
“Honestly, fair, I was trying to compensate [the turnovers] Horton-Tucker said after finishing with 13 points and 10 assists in 34 minutes on the bench. Just being in that position, I was like, ‘Why not? The opportunity presented itself, and I just tried to keep my confidence up and good things are happening. “
LA, now behind the No.5 Portland Trail Blazers and No.6 Dallas Mavericks by one game apiece, still has an opportunity to break out of 7th place in the Western Conference standings and avoid the play-in tournament. .
If the Lakers go 3-0 to finish the regular season, with a home game against the Houston Rockets on Wednesday and a straight road to close things off on Saturday against the Indiana Pacers and Sunday against the New Orleans Pelicans, they can pass over. Blazers or Mavs if either team scores 1-2 or worse on the home stretch.
Portland plays on the road against Utah and Phoenix and at home against Denver to close things off. Dallas has it easier with home games against New Orleans and Toronto and a road game in Minnesota.
The Lakers hope to get LeBron James back in the lineup for Wednesday’s game against Houston. He is expected to return soon from a five-game absence spent rehabilitating his sprained upper right ankle that had already caused him to miss six weeks.
Almost seven months to the day after winning the 2020 NBA title in the Orlando, Florida bubble, the team will unveil their championship banner in front of nearly 3,000 fans at Staples Center ahead of the Rockets game.
But LA could still be underestimated even with James returning, as Anthony Davis has said he won’t know about his availability for the Rockets game until he undergoes treatment for a strained groin on Wednesday afternoon.
“It hurts,” Davis said after Tuesday’s game. “No more my body, just my groin tightened. … I’m not sure [Wednesday]. I mean, I’m going to get treatment and see how I feel. I mean I’m gonna play, but it really bothered me tonight. We’ll see how I feel tomorrow and then later today.
“It’s very, very possible that I will fight and play since the next day is a day of rest. But I don’t want to be too late either and now I’m out for a few games. “
The Lakers also lost Caruso, who couldn’t finish Tuesday’s game due to a pain in his right foot which he had been playing for about last week.
If Caruso and Davis can’t take on the Rockets, LA is just going to plug in and play other guys, which he’s got used to this season.
“What we talk about all the time is being a team first,” said Lakers coach Frank Vogel. “Everyone counts, everyone has to stay ready. This has never been truer than the past few weeks when guys have been called in where they never expected it and they come and jump in. … Every player matters, every player is important and we’re going to need everyone. ”