Talen Horton-Tucker started getting listed on the Lakers injury report with a “left ankle sprain” 10 days ago, and has only played in three of the team’s five games since then.
After scoring 15 points off the bench — punctuated by breaking Kentavious Caldwell-Pope’s ankles with a spin move before dunking on Kyle Kuzma — Horton-Tucker revealed the extent of the injury, and it sounds like it’s more serious than most realized.
“My ankle, I had a Grade 2 sprain, so I’m still dealing with it. It’s still painful. I’m just trying to play through it until the end of the season because we’ve got to get some wins,” Horton-Tucker said. “Any way I can help, I feel like I need to be out there. I’m trying to play through it, (even if) it still hurts.”
For full context, our own Dr. Rajpal Brar — who has a doctorate in physical therapy and does medical analysis for Silver Screen and Roll — wrote on Twitter that such an injury can sideline a player for much longer than Horton-Tucker has actually missed.
Grade 2 is a moderate ligament tear. Typically 3-4 weeks out. Another explanation for some of the movement issues the Lakers have seen from Talen https://t.co/MRgDunsbgj— Dr. Rajpal Brar, DPT (@3cbPerformance) March 12, 2022
That Horton-Tucker revealed this after one of his better games of the season feels notable. This is something that is really nagging at him, not something he’s trying to use as an excuse for poor play. And it being sore enough for the team to hold him out twice in the last week is further evidence that this is a real issue, and likely one the young guard will be dealing with for the rest of the season if he doesn’t get sat out to rest at any point.
So while some members of the Lakers are reportedly just counting down the days until the season comes to an end, Horton-Tucker clearly isn’t approaching things that way. It’s admirable maturity, approach and just plain respect for the game of basketball from the still-just-21-year-old.
Now, maybe Horton-Tucker is just too young and naive to feel hopeless about a season this lost. But for as low of a bar as this is, Lakers fans should be grateful for any player still trying to make the best of this campaign. Especially one doing so on a bum wheel, and who is still taking enough joy in the team’s achievements to scream in a former teammate’s face as they’re securing an all-too-rare victory. In a year without much to get excited about, Horton-Tucker’s continued development and growth process is one of the few things left to watch for and get excited about.