Los Angeles Times writer Bill Platchke called it “A blast-off by the castoffs.”
Some would say that’s what former Putnam City star Xavier Henry has become. But not after Tuesday night.
With his third team in four seasons, the former top prospect and Kansas one-and-doner lifted the Los Angeles Lakers over the Los Angeles Clippers 116-103 on NBA Opening Night Tuesday.
With no Kobe Bryant in the backcourt to take a majority of the shots, Henry surprised off the bench with a game-high 22 points, including leading the Lakers in a fourth quarter in which they outscored the Clippers 41-26. Our Trent Shadid blogged earlier about the high-flying of Henry and fellow Okie Blake Griffin (Oklahoma Christian School/Oklahoma).
Following an offseason in which Blake Griffin said “Lob City is no more,” and new coach Doc Rivers has them focusing more on defense, it’s not a good sign that the Clippers were outgunned by a motley crew of reserves such as Jordan Farmar (16 points), Jodie Meeks (nine), Chris Kaman (10) and Jordan Hill (12). The Lakers’ bench outscored the Clippers’ starting five 73-69, led by Henry’s heroics.
Griffin finished with 19 points, and Henry, who spent parts of last season in the D-League, scored 12 of his 22 in the fourth. ESPNLosAngeles.com’s Dave McMenamin said Henry is still green to even his L.A. teammates.
Leading the Lakers’ version of the Island of Misfit Toys against the Clippers was a guy whose teammates don’t even know how to pronounce his name after spending more than a month together through training camp.
“I don’t even worry about it,” Xavier Henry said after scoring a career high 22 points on 8-for-13 shooting and hauling in six rebounds. “A lot of them call me ‘X,’ ‘Zav,’ ‘Zay.’ They make it work. They know that I know when they’re calling me, so it doesn’t matter to me.”
Clearly, Henry didn’t bother to listen to former Laker legend Magic Johnson, who earlier Tuesday said the spoiled Lakers fan base is in for a long year. By the looks of Tuesday night’s performance, however, Henry may help make the Kobe-less stretch a little more palatable.