Lakers' Xavier Henry practices
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- The Los Angeles Lakers could have some help for their depleted point guard position coming right around the corner, as Xavier Henry returned to the practice court Sunday for the first time since suffering a bone bruise in his right knee.
Henry will be examined by a Lakers team doctor Monday and said it is "possible" he could return to game action as soon as Tuesday when L.A. hosts the Cleveland Cavaliers.
"I feel alright," Henry said. "I'd be lying if I said I'm 100 percent, but I'm working at it and that's all I'm trying to do -- get back as fast as possible."
Originally slated to be out 7-10 days before being re-evaluated, Henry returned to the practice court 14 days after suffering the injury in the first quarter of the Lakers' eventual 111-104 loss to the Philadelphia 76ers on Dec. 29.
"I'm optimistic," said Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni. "I hope [he returns] pretty soon. I hope so."
Henry's MRI following the Sixers game showed that the 22-year-old is also dealing with an abnormality of the lateral meniscus in his right knee. Henry alluded to the abnormality when asked if he was feeling any pain after going through the practice session.
"Pain, no," Henry said. "But there's still some issues that only get better with time. So, I think I'm close to being back and I'm not sure how long [it will take] but it's feeling better."
Henry originally described his knee feeling "weird" and "a little loose" following the Philadelphia game but said he feels "way better" in the two weeks since. However, there is still a lingering sensation that continues to cause him some pause.
"It might be soreness," Henry said. "I'm not sure what it is. I'll find out from the doctor [Monday]. I'll describe everything that I felt [Sunday] with all my running and all that kind of stuff."
Henry had been limited to weight training and pool exercises since suffering the injury, but asked the Lakers' training staff to allow him to test out his knee on the court Sunday.
"The way I play, I'm not one of the slow-paced, spot-up-shooter kind of guys," Henry said. "When I get out there, I always run, I always have to cut, I always cross over, moving, trying to get to the basket. For me to go out there and be comfortable playing, I need to know I can do those things. I don't want to just go out there and feel all awkward and my knee's hurting and stuff like that.
"So, I've been trying to ... get on this basketball court to do some stuff just see where I'm at. Just to see how much it hurts, if it hurts, where it hurts. Stuff like that, so I have things to tell to the doctor [Monday] about how it feels."
The fourth-year veteran finished Sunday's practice playing an alternating game of 1-on-1 against Lakers assistant coaches Mark Madsen and Larry Lewis as well as video coordinator J.J. Outlaw. Madsen won.
"He hit a good jumper on me," Henry said. "Shout out to Mark."
Madsen actually donned a practice uniform Sunday to give the Lakers a 10th healthy player so they could have a full game. A coach filling in as a practice player is par for the course during this Lakers season.
Henry is naturally a wing player but had been playing out of position at point guard prior to his injury to help L.A. mitigate the losses of Steve Nash (nerve root irritation), Steve Blake (right elbow) and Jordan Farmar (left hamstring).
Henry had been a bright spot during a mostly frustrating Lakers season so far, averaging 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists after making the team during training camp on a non-guaranteed deal for the veteran's minimum that became fully vested this week. The Lakers are mired in a slump having lost 10 of their last 11 games, including a 1-6 mark since Henry's injury.
A major part of the slide has been turnovers, as L.A. is averaging 17.5 per game in those 10 losses.
"It's been unbelievable," Henry said. "I'm dying over here. I don't like watching my team lose or watching us struggle and stuff like that. So, I'm really trying to make the next step to get back as fast as I can."