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Lakers, Xavier Henry make strong first impression in preseason opener

October 06, 2013|By Eric Pincus
  • Lakers guard Xavier Henry steals the ball from Golden State guard Cameron Jones.
Lakers guard Xavier Henry steals the ball from Golden State guard Cameron… (Alex Gallardo / Associated…)

The Lakers made their preseason debut Saturday night in Ontario, beating the Golden State Warriors, 104-95.

In a game where Coach Mike D'Antoni sat out Steve Nash and Pau Gasol to avoid playing the veteran duo on back-to-back nights (the team also plays Sunday at Staples Center against the Denver Nuggets), the Lakers found an unlikely hero in Xavier Henry.

Henry scored 29 points -- seemingly out of nowhere. The buzz around camp thus far has been of Wesley Johnson, Jordan Farmar and even Gasol, who spent most of the summer rehabbing knee issues.

In a little over 26 minutes, the Lakers outscored the Warriors by 21 points with Henry on the floor. Conversely, Golden State had a 12-point advantage over the Lakers when Henry was sitting on the bench.

The Lakers invited 19 players to camp, 11 with fully guaranteed contracts. Both Shawne Williams and Elias Harris are promised $100,000 each, which probably buys them at least a month into the regular season.

It's unclear how many players the team will carry to opening night, but the maximum is 15.  Players such as Eric Boateng, Darius Johnson-Odom and Dan Gadzuric may be longshots.

That leaves Marcus Landry, second-round pick Ryan Kelly (48th overall) and Henry fighting for one or two spots -- assuming the Lakers keep more than the minimum of 13 players.

Recovering from foot surgery, Kelly is about a week away from being cleared to play. Landry put in a solid nine minutes with three points, two assists and a blocked shot.

Henry very quickly made his case. He comes in with a reputation as a solid defender but if he can also provide some level of an offense threat, he could very well be a keeper.

Obviously the Lakers won't expect 29 points a night from Henry, but for a player who needed to make an impression, he certainly achieved that in his first true opportunity.

Other observations:

  • Jordan Farmar aggressively looked to play-make. Not every pass was crisp and clean but he played unselfishly with a game-high seven assists.
  • Chris Kaman's shooting range can be a valuable weapon though he was less effective when he put the ball on the floor. Kaman had a double-double with 10 points, 10 rebounds and two blocked shots.
  • Robert Sacre didn't rebound well (just two) but his offensive game has improved -- specifically his jump shot.
  • Jodie Meeks, Wesley Johnson and Jordan Hill didn't particularly stand out.
  • Nick Young can score (17 points in under 20 minutes), but he's got to watch the fouls (five).
  • It was not Steve Blake's best game as a Laker.
  • Naturally Kobe Bryant (Achilles') didn't play. Meeks started at shooting guard while Young got the nod at small forward. Boateng, Johnson-Odom and Kelly also sat out -- along with the aforementioned Nash and Gasol.
  • The Warriors did not use their primary players long with Stephen Curry, David Lee, Andrew Bogut and Andre Iguodala all playing under 21 minutes. Curry logged just over 14 minutes.


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Email Eric Pincus at and follow him on Twitter @EricPincus.

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