Xavier Henry took one painful route into ensuring Kobe Bryant throws him a compliment.
After suffering a gash on his forehead in the second quarter, Henry stayed in what became an ugly Lakers’ 91-85 loss Friday to the San Antonio Spurs at Staples Center. After a long timeout, Henry made two free throws before jogging back to the locker room to receive nine stitches. Bryant then gave Henry a gold star.
“He shot his after his torn Achilles,” Henry said. “We talked a little while I was getting my stitches. We had a couple of jokes. It was all right.”
That’s hardly how he’d describe his actual well-being, though.
Henry suffered the injury after driving into the lane and falling on the knee of Lakers forward Wesley Johnson. Lakers trainer Gary Vitti repeatedly tried stopping the bleeding with a towel. The Lakers then treated the two-inch gash with stitches, a bandage and a compression cap. Aside from his ugly fall, Henry also provided an ugly performance, scoring only three points on a 3 of 6 mark from the line and missing all five of his field-goal attempts.
“My head’s going to hurt,” Henry said. “I expect that. To say that’s my numbers went down, I’m not going to say that. But my head hurts pretty good.”
The Lakers seemed to hurt from the injury pretty good, too.
They led 33-18 with 8:32 left in the second quarter after Henry made his two free throws, but that double-digit cushion soon evaporated. The Spurs closed out the first half with a 23-9 run, and the Lakers never recovered.
“We had it going a little but then when X got hurt, for whatever reason the air kind of went out of us,” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “That can’t happen. Our margin of error is not that big, and we can’t have moments that erupt their team and then all of a sudden it’s a tie game.”
Still, there’s something to be said for playing through such an injury, one so serious that the Lakers actually tested Henry on whether he suffered a concussion. The Lakers said he had no symptoms. Not a surprise. Shortly after suffering the injury, Henry was laughing and smiling about it. He also maintained enough sense of humor, playfully suggesting he’s going to exact revenge on Johnson for the injury.
“I can focus on the game,” Henry said. “It doesn’t matter if my head is bleeding or my head is hurting. There’s one goal for the game. That’s to win the game. I tried the best I could once I got back out there. But it didn’t happen.”
Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org