Talen Horton-Tucker’s dagger gives Lakers thrilling win over Knicks in game of the year candidate
In the fashionable NBA, video games sometimes go into time beyond regulation, with each groups scoring nicely over 100 factors. That did not occur on Tuesday. The New York Knicks and Los Angeles Lakers performed one of the most fun low rating video games you’ll ever see. It went into time beyond regulation at 91 apiece, and by the time the mud settled between 101 and 99, they’d performed the second-lowest time beyond regulation game of the season.
It did not matter. This game was persistently shut, with one game-changing setback to ship the game into time beyond regulation, and several other huge photographs that appeared like potential game winners. The Lakers finally prevailed, rising to 39-30 throughout the season. That additional win will add loads to the standings. This is the place we are going to begin the key takeaways from as we speak’s battle.
1. Six is the quantity of the night time
The Laker win stored their hopes of avoiding the opening spherical. With three comparatively straightforward video games left on the agenda, all they need to do is give attention to the Portland Trail Blazers to battle down the monitor. Currently, the Blazers lead the Lakers with one game in the standings, however because of the tiebreaker they must lose twice to drop to seventh place. Fortunately for the Lakers, Portland finishes towards three rivals: the Jazz, Sonnen and Nuggets. If the Lakers play their three video games towards the Rockets, Pacers and Pelicans whereas Portland loses two or extra of their very own, the Lakers would find yourself in sixth place.
While the Lakers battle to complete sixth, the Knicks battle to keep away from it. New York is now in a three-way relationship with Atlanta and Miami at 38:31, however this example hardly favors them. Three-way ties are damaged if both group is a division winner. Currently, the Hawks are in line to win the Southeast Division, forcing the Knicks right into a direct tiebreaker with the warmth they lose. They want both Miami or Atlanta to lose a couple of video games earlier than they will sneak again out of attain of the high three groups in the Eastern Conference.
The Hawks are most well-liked in every of their three remaining video games, however the Heat is just not. They play the Philadelphia 76ers tomorrow and the Milwaukee Bucks on Saturday. If even one of these video games is a loss, the Knicks are again in enterprise.
Talen Horton-Tucker had solely performed eight minutes in clutch conditions this season when he got here into play on Tuesday. It makes intuitive sense. While the Lakers proceed to attempt to search out him, few groups are snug with a 20-year-old mendacity on the flooring late in shut matches. They are simply too susceptible to error. So was Horton-Tucker. It is smart that his status amongst non-Lakers followers was largely primarily based on a dominant preseason efficiency. Players who’re younger usually do not need the alternative to show themselves in increased leverage conditions.
Well, Tuesday was a excessive leverage scenario, and whereas Horton-Tucker fought most of the game, he delivered when it mattered. In overtaking a serious seeding game towards a high 5 protection with out his greatest teammate, Horton-Tucker scored eight of the Lakers’ 10 factors, together with the magnificence of a game winner.
Yes, Horton-Tucker had seven turnovers in that game. He’s an overdribbler who typically reveals harmful ranges of tunnel imaginative and prescient. He is a 26 % Three level shooter. These are all respectable criticisms. But such lightning bolts are very, very uncommon for a 20-year-old. On Tuesday he grew to become the first Lakers reserve since the 1995/96 season to publish a number of 10-point video games with 10 assists in one season. The final participant to do that? Magic Johnson. At a younger age, he was fairly snug taking part in in the Clutch for the Lakers. Horton-Tucker appears to be too.
3. Save house for Wes
Horton-Tucker’s game winners will get the most consideration, however the Lakers would not even have labored time beyond regulation with out the greatest setback of their season from Wesley Matthews.
Such excessive IQ video games are frequent with Matthews, however minutes this late in video games are usually not. In reality, as a consequence of a mix of squad turnover and inconsistent play, Matthews struggled to remain in rotation for an excellent portion of the season. In reality, when Anthony Davis returned to the group, Matthews was stored utterly out of 5 of his first six video games as the Lakers scrambled to search out sufficient minutes for everybody.
But with Ben McLemore as Laker and several other injured Perimeter gamers, Frank Vogel has relied an increasing number of on Matthews these days. He performed 33 minutes in Sunday’s win over the Suns, the second most minute of his season, and the Lakers defeated Phoenix with 13 factors on the floor. He performed 24 minutes on Tuesday and in a one-point game the Lakers received his minutes with 14 factors.
Horton-Tucker has celebrities, however these numbers are why Matthews is prone to play the larger position in the postseason. It’s far more steady. His taking pictures matches the different Laker ball handlers extra comfortably, he is a extra constant defender, and as that setback confirmed, his basketball IQ is simply extra developed. He’s at all times in the proper place at the proper time and it has enabled Horton-Tucker to win this game in time beyond regulation.