Lakers move Nick Young to bench, start Xavier Henry

Nick Young wasn't upset about losing his starting job.

Or was he?

"No bad blood," he said. "What's the ice-skater lady?"

That would be Tonya Harding. Young was joking.

He's too kind to strike someone in the leg with a metal instrument. Not to mention that he and Xavier Henry are friendly with each other. And sit next to each other in the locker room.

"It's too early to try to start some controversy. I'm going with the flow…. That's my man," Young said.

Coach Mike D'Antoni pulled the plug on Young as a starter and green-lighted Henry before the Lakers played Atlanta on Sunday. Young was shooting 27% and averaging 8.3 points in his first three games with the Lakers.

"It's just me missing shots. It happens," Young said. "Me and Coach talked about it and he thought it would be best if I tried something else."

Young hoped he would find something with the second unit and did in the Lakers' 105-103 victory over the Hawks. He had 13 points on five-for-nine shooting and added four assists in 21 minutes.

The change worked for Henry too. He had a team-high 18 points in 26 minutes, the third time he led the Lakers (2-2) in scoring.

Nothing more than a training-camp invitee a month ago, Henry impressed coaches with hard drives to the basket and improved outside touch after working with Lakers assistant coach Kurt Rambis.

Henry, 22, started 18 games in his first three NBA seasons despite being the 12th pick in the 2010 draft.

He averaged only 4.5 points in 133 games with Memphis and New Orleans. He accepted his promotion Sunday without any fanfare.

"I'm not too amped up or doing anything crazy," Henry said. "I'm going to do the exact same thing I've been doing."

He more or less did it with 18 points in 26 minutes Sunday.

"He has played as well if not better than anybody," D'Antoni said. "There's no reason not to go ahead and do this [change] and lengthen his time on the court a little bit."

Henry is under contract for a relatively low $884,293 that doesn't even become guaranteed until January. Not that he needs to worry about it.

If nothing else, Henry's definitely hard-headed.

He received nine stitches in his forehead Friday when he smashed into Wesley Johnson's knee while driving against San Antonio. He did not sustain a concussion but acknowledged he still had headaches Sunday.

"It's getting better every day," Henry said. "It'll be probably gone within the next couple days, but I'm fine."

Twitter: @Mike_Bresnahan

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