Xavier Henry makes a name for himself in Lakers' preseason opener

There may not be a need for pronunciation guides much longer.

It’s ZAH-vee-ay, and if Xavier Henry can replicate the performance he had in his Lakers preseason debut then his name will be well known throughout the NBA.

Henry scored 29 points off the bench on an efficient nine-for-15 shooting Saturday night during the Lakers’ 104-95 victory over the Golden State Warriors at Citizens Business Bank Arena in Ontario.

The guard whose addition to the Lakers’ training camp roster didn’t cause much of a stir was a crowd favorite with several amazing plays, including an alley-oop pass on an inbounds play and a shot from beyond half court at the halftime buzzer.

“As soon as I had it in my hands,” Henry said, “I looked up, saw the rim and just shot it and it went in.”

Pretty impressive for someone who had averaged only 4.5 points during his first three NBA seasons.

“I just never had that opportunity to really show what I can do,” said Henry, a former first-round draft pick whose time with the Memphis Grizzlies and New Orleans Hornets was beset by injuries and inconsistent playing time.

Henry, 22, showed a variety of skills against the Warriors, making two of four three-pointers while also displaying the ability to get to the rim. He was repeatedly fouled and made nine of 11 free throws. He also had seven rebounds.

“His biggest thing is shot selection and getting confidence,” Lakers Coach Mike D’Antoni said, “and tonight he did that and if he can continue to do that, he can play.”

Henry attributed part of his success to being in the midst of a group of young former high draft picks trying to prove themselves anew.

“Everybody’s been hungry,” he said. “Everybody every day knows they can’t take a day off. You have to come out hungry. We come out hungry, we play hard, we take open shots, we play defense.”

They’ll also soon learn the backstory on Henry’s name, if they don’t know it already.

“I was born in Belgium and they speak Flemish over there,” Henry said, “so it would be Xavier here but it’s part French, part Flemish, so that’s why they pronounce it ZAH-vee-ay. I can see why people pronounce it all these other things.”

They may not for long.

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