LOS ANGELES — In just his second game back from a bone bruise to his right knee, Los Angeles Lakers guard Xavier Henry displayed his continued improvement from the injury that sidelined him for over two months.
Henry in Tuesday’s 132-125 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans was limited to 14 minutes on the floor, but in that short time on the floor he scored 12 points on 4-of-7 shooting from the field that included a couple of drives to the rim that resulted in layups and a two-handed dunk on a fast break.
“Every day it feels better and it’s a little bit looser,” Henry said. “There really is no big difference. I feel the same as I did yesterday. I just hope to keep that going (by) getting stronger everyday and getting my conditioning up.”
As for the dunk, the 22-year-old stated that it felt “weird” to dunk in a game after missing 27 games due to his right knee injury.
“It was weird,” Henry said. “It really was weird because I don’t have my usual bounce that I have. I am continuing to strengthen my knee and hopefully soon I will be jumping how I used to jump.”
As for the impression he made on his head coach Mike D’Antoni, he was pleased by Henry’s performance on the court in Tuesday’s game.
“(He was) much better than the first outing,” D’Antoni said. “Something is going to happen when he is on the floor and I thought he played pretty well. I thought the second half especially and the first half he did OK. He will keep getting better and keep earning the minutes.”
D’Antoni also stated that he expects Henry to compete for minutes for the remainder of the season against the team’s other guards such as MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore, which is something that the 22-year-old feels that he is ready to take head on.
“I hope so,” Henry said. “I will play any minutes he gives me. I am just out here to play and do what I do best. I don’t know how the minute thing is going to go and it’s not on me, but whatever minutes he gives me I am going to take advantage of it.”
But as Henry competes for his share of minutes on the floor, he knows that he must continue take care of his knee as it was an injury that forced him to miss two months due to two setbacks because his knee was could not handle the workload. So with that in mind, Henry says he will keep a close eye on his knee while he continues to work his way back into form on the court.
“I am just trying to play the game smart right now,” Henry said. “I am trying to nurse my knee while I am playing the game. I am just playing the game smart, taking it one game at a time and seeing what comes of it.”
Photo Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports