ONTARIO (AP) — Xavier Henry and his fellow Lakers newcomers realize they’ve got a chance to take charge while Los Angeles’ veteran stars take it easy this month.
Henry scored 29 points, Nick Young added 17 and the Lakers earned their first preseason victory in nearly three years, 104-95 over the Golden State Warriors on Saturday night.
Chris Kaman had 10 points and 10 rebounds for the Lakers, who had lost 10 straight exhibition games, including all eight last season. Los Angeles hadn’t won a preseason game since Oct. 22, 2010, also in Ontario against the Warriors – not that coach Mike D’Antoni thought the mark had anything to do with his revamped club.
“It’s early, anybody can win,” D’Antoni said. “It doesn’t mean a whole lot, (but) the whole thing is energizing.”
The Lakers’ preseason struggles last fall were an eerie foreshadowing of their difficult year. Los Angeles went 0-8 in exhibitions under coach Mike Brown, who was fired after a 1-4 start to the regular season.
Steve Nash and Pau Gasol sat out the exhibition opener for the Lakers, who will attempt to preserve their aging core’s health all season long. Kobe Bryant isn’t even in the country while undergoing medical treatment in Europe, but Nash watched the game in uniform from the bench while Gasol sat in street clothes.
The Lakers’ collection of role players and new acquisitions came together quickly enough to hold off the Warriors, who used their regular lineup before limiting the starters’ minutes. Jordan Farmar, who returned to the Lakers this summer, had 12 points – nine in the fourth quarter – and seven assists.
Henry scored 14 points in the fourth, punctuating an impressive debut after signing with the Lakers as a free agent last month. The three-year NBA veteran was a 12th overall pick, but never found a role amid injuries and inactivity with Memphis and New Orleans.
“When you move around, you never get your feet under you,” Henry said. “When you have an equal opportunitylike this, I’m just trying to show what I can do.”
Gasol and Nash are expected to play for the Lakers on Sunday night at Staples Center against Denver.
The stars’ absence was one reason the teams fell far short of a sellout crowd at Citizens Business Bank Arena in the Inland Empire, an hour’s drive east from downtown Los Angeles.
Klay Thompson scored 26 points on 11-for-18 shooting, and Andre Iguodala had 15 points while missing just one shot in his first action with the Warriors, who signed him to a four-year, $48 million deal in July.
Harrison Barnes and David Lee scored 10 points apiece, while Stephen Curry had five points in 14 quiet minutes.
The Warriors’ starting five fell behind 7-0 before scoring 15 consecutive points. Iguodala immediately showed off his post-up game and his ball-handling versatility in the first quarter, scoring nine points.
Young heated up in the second, scoring 17 first-half points in less than 14 minutes. The Los Angeles native joined the Lakers during the summer, finally putting on the jersey of his favorite childhood team – and he’ll have plenty of chances to do his best Kobe impersonation while the fourth-leading scorer in NBA history is out this month.
“I know he’s probably watching,” Young said of Bryant.
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