The Lakers cast a wide net this off-season by bringing in a handful of players deemed busts: Wes Johnson and Xavier Henry, namely. On Saturday night, they may have found themselves a keeper. Henry’s 29-point outburst led the Lakers to a 104-95 victory over the Warriors in the first preseason game of the year for each squad. Nick Young dazzled the crowd early en route to 17 points of his own. Young, however, went to the bench early in the 3rd quarter, leaving room for Henry to shine.
Henry’s impressive ability to get to the rim and finish through contract was on display throughout the night as he finished 9-15 from the field and 9-11 from the night. His defense also led to two steals and his non-stop motor got him to seven rebounds, two of those offensive. But his highlight of the night came at the end of the second half when he buried a buzzer beater from beyond half-court to give the Lakers the lead at the break.
Prior to Henry’s long range bomb, Young was at center stage as all 17 of his point came in the first half. Behind an array of crossovers and step-back jumpers, Young got fans out of their seats more than once at the expense of his defender. His five fouls in just over three quarters of action likely sent him to the bench quicker than planned, but he proved a valuable asset to this Lakers squad.
Kaman started the game off early, scoring seven of the team’s first nine points. He also did not play significant minutes in the second half, yet still finished with 10 points and 10 rebounds with 2 assists and 2 blocks. Another newly acquired Laker, Jordan Farmar, was the catalyst for the Lakers most of the night. While Lakers fans were already familiar with his game, he showed a handful of new wrinkles, including a slick no-look backwards pass on a cut to the basket which found Shawne Williams wide-open for the jumper. His 12 points, 5 assists, and 3 steals don’t do enough justice for how vital a role he played in the Laker’s victory.
After a first-half filled with runs – a 7-0 run by the Lakers, then a 15-0 Warriors run, lastly followed by an 8-0 Lakers run to start the game – the two teams slowed to a snail’s pace in the 3rd quarter with the Lakers scoring just 10 points. Hard-nosed defense (when’s the last time you said THAT about the Lakers) kept the team in it as the Warriors scored just 14 points in the quarter, leading one heading into the fourth. The back-and-forth quarter saw the Lakers pull away late thanks to crucial buckets from Elias Harris in the post and Marcus Landry from three late in the game.
Every Laker who played tonight also scored, with Darius Johnson-Odom and Eric Boateng being the only healthy scratches from the game. Neither Steve Nash nor Pau Gasol saw action in order to remain rested for tomorrow night’s contest. That contest features Brian Shaw’s return back to Los Angeles as a head coach when he brings his Nuggets to town. The game tips off 9:30 Eastern, 6:30 Pacific on NBATV.