Xavier Henry and Nick Young Make Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni Look Genius

Just two nights after Xavier Henry got nine stitches in his head, he was the starting shooting guard for the Los Angeles Lakers.

The Atlanta Hawks came to Staples Center Sunday night. After being down 13 at the half, they managed to come back, falling short after a furious fourth-quarter drive. The Purple and Gold held on to win, 105-103, due in no small part to the switcheroo in roles, Henry for Nick Young.

You can either credit D’Antoni for pulling the trigger on the switch, or Henry and Young for leading their respective units in scoring. News came down before tipoff that D’Antoni had made the decision:

Lakers sideline reporter Mike Trudell reported that D’Antoni believed the move would all help restore Young’s confidence in his stroke, which has been falling short so far during the young regular season:

Henry has been showing athleticism and leadership since the preseason. He’s also one of the team’s better on-ball defenders, something Young’s not especially known for. Swaggy P’s always been more of freelance gunner—he can create his own shot and won’t hesitate to put it up. After the win, Young embraced his inner bench hero, according to Mark Medina of the L.A. Daily News:

Henry brought in 18 points in an economical 26 minutes as a starter. More importantly, he went hard to the basket on several occasion, drawing fouls and shooting 6-of-8 at the charity stripe. As for Young, a surprisingly well-rounded game, with 13 points, four boards and four assists, all in 21 minutes.

With Kobe Bryant still out of action, the one-two shooting guard punch of Henry and Young is something that’s much needed.

Last season, Coach D’Antoni seemed to be searching desperately for answers. The musical chairs continued throughout the season, sometimes due to injury, s...

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