Tonight was an interesting game for the Lakers. Nick Young and Chris Kaman both got off to hot starts, the team as a collective unit was shooting well from mid-range and were working hard on the defensive end.
Jordan Farmar was good in pick and roll sets, but it was Xavier Henry who impressed most. He got off to a great start, hitting three of his first four shots, including a strong finish with an And-1 at the rim. He also knocked down a mid-range shot and extended his scoring behind the three point line, check out his shot chart.
The first thing that stands out in the graphic is that Henry took 60 percent of his shots at the rim, which is huge considering the fact that head coach Mike D’Antoni said that his biggest weakness has been his shot selection.
“He’s been a little inconsistent with his shot, which is probably his weakness, but he shot it well tonight,” said D’Antoni in his post-game interview with Time Warner Sports Net. “He was just confident. He was real physical and is always going to play great defense. His biggest thing is shot selection and getting confidence, and tonight he did it. If he can continue to do that, he can play.”
Coming into tonight’s game, Henry was one of the fringe guys. While tonight was huge for his chances, he’s going to have to maintain some sort of consistency if he’s to make the team. Henry scored 14 of his 29 points in the fourth quarter against the Warriors third string and Klay Thompson, so the 29 is likely to be an outlying performance.
However, if Henry can come off the bench and provide some sort of spark by getting to the basket and creating some easy looks for himself and others (and we must emphasize the “and others” as he recorded no assists on the night), he’ll likely not only earn a spot on this team, but earn some minutes in the rotation.
While we should not over hype this performance, it’s definitely not one that we should ignore, either. Henry’s next step is sustaining decent play off the bench, then finding a rhythm with his teammates.
Will we be lucky enough to see more of this from Henry? Lakers Nation surely hopes so!
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