Xavier Henry back from injury
EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- After missing more than two months of game action because of a right knee injury, Xavier Henry will make his return when the Los Angeles Lakers go on the road to play the Portland Trail Blazers on Monday.
"I'm pain free and feel good," Henry said Sunday after going through a full-contact practice with the Lakers. "But it's about my wind and body and being heavier than I was and trying to eat right and trying to get back into shape."
Henry flew back to L.A. on Sunday morning after a two-game rehabilitation stint in Frisco, Texas, playing with the Lakers' D-League affiliate. Henry averaged 17.0 points on 38.2 percent shooting, 2.0 rebounds and 3.5 steals in 24.5 minutes in two games with the D-Fenders.
Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said that Henry has to shed some excess weight as he works his way back into the rotation. Henry said it's only "a couple of pounds."
"It's not a lot of pounds," Henry said. "But there's a difference from my legs being strong and carrying my body and my legs being off two months and I have to get my legs strong to carry everything I do. I'm pretty aggressive. I cut and run real hard. Things like that, my legs have to be strong to do that. I haven't been able to do that. Now I have to get my legs back."
A lot has changed for the Lakers since Henry last played on Dec. 29. They were 13-18 at the time of his injury and are now 20-39, tied with the Sacramento Kings for last place in the Western Conference. Henry will also now be competing with two new players acquired at the trade deadline -- MarShon Brooks and Kent Bazemore -- for playing time.
D'Antoni said that the team moved Wesley Johnson from the wing to the starting front court in anticipation of Henry's return.
"We can't have eight guys on the wing, that's one reason we did it. We also think we're better off doing it that way," D'Antoni said. "But he'll get some room."
While Henry says getting his knee drained several weeks ago and receiving a cortisone shot helped alleviate the pain, he is still dealing with what the team is classifying as an abnormality of the lateral meniscus in the knee.
"You know that he's going to have to play, you worry about it a little bit just because you don't want anything to happen to it," D'Antoni said of Henry's knee. "But at the same time if it acts up you get the meniscus clipped at the end of the year and it would be fine. So it's not a big deal in the sense of future, but it's, he wants to play and he feels like he can."
Henry, 22, is one of 12 players on the Lakers' 15-man roster that is set to become a free agent this offseason.
The fourth-year veteran averaged 10.4 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.2 assists on the season before he got hurt.