What does this duo have in common? They both signed for the veteran minimum ($884,293) in the offseason to come to Los Angeles and attempt to revive their careers with the Lakers. On Tuesday night, they both played a huge part in the Lakers 116-103 surprising win over the Clippers to tipoff the 2013-2014 NBA season.
Henry, a 4 year veteran at the tender age of 22 years old, has never panned out after failing to stick with the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans after declaring for the NBA draft after his freshman season at Kansas. Tuesday night, he scored a career-high and game-high 22 points (on 8-of-13 shooting) and he grabbed 6 rebounds to lead a strong bench that combined to score 76 points. He scored 12 of his 22 points points during the final period and led a 28-8 run that blew the game wide open.
After his strong performance (albeit just one regular season game), Henry may have earned himself additional playing time to see if he could be the eventual heir apparent to Kobe Bryant at shooting guard. In his first preseason game with the team after signing, he scored 29 points (9-of-15 shooting) against the Golden State Warriors on October 6th.
Farmar was out of the League last season (he played in Turkey), but he showed he has grown as a player since his first stint with the Lakers (2006-2010). He scored 16 points (on 6-of-10 shooting) and dished out 6 assists in 27 minutes backing up starter Steve Nash. Farmar seems like a much better fit for head coach Mike D’Antoni’s helter skelter offense than Phil Jackson’s Triangle offense. And Henry also seems to be a good fit as well as he has shown during his short time with the team.
“Our confidence and our belief in each other, we didn’t waver at all,” Farmar told the LA Times Mike Bresnahan after the game. “We competed and it’s a good sign to start off with.”
D’Antoni has vowed to expand his notoriously short playing rotation to 10-11 players this season in an effort to rest the older players (Bryant when he returns from a torn ACL, Steve Nash and Pau Gasol). And the bench came through in a big way as yhey blew the game wide open in the final quarter as D’Antoni played the reserves the entire 4th period. Jodie Meeks chipped in with 13 points, and backup big man Jordan Hill added 12 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Chris Kaman scored 10 points on a variety of jumpshots and hustled for 8 rebounds. It was the first time five players had scored in double figures since 2007 and the bench scored the final 48 points.
Gasol had 15 points, 13 rebounds and 4 assists in just 24 minutes of action to lead the starters in scoring and Nick Young added 13 points. They were the only starters to break double figures.
“A great performance by our team,” Gasol said to Bresnahan. “Not completely surprised. I’m just proud and happy about the win.”
The Clippers seemed out of sorts all night and exceptionally so in the second half when they blew a slim 57-55 halftime lead. A lot of that can be attributed to new head coach Doc Rivers and having to learn a new offensive system after the Clipper fired Vinny Del Negro after winning a franchise record 56 games last season.
Regardless, for one night the City of Angels belonged to the Lakers. As it has during most of the two teams stay in Los Angeles.
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