Nick Young to start over Xavier Henry against Rockets

HOUSTON — The Lakers will start Nick Young at small forward over Xavier Henry tonight against the Houston Rockets after the two swapped roles for the past two games, coach Mike D’Antoni told this newspaper.

D’Antoni wouldn’t explain the thought process. But both Young and Henry later confirmed the lineup switch. D’Antoni also plans to start Chris Kaman at power forward over Shawne Williams while Pau Gasol plays at center to account for the Rockets’ big frontcourt in Dwight Howard and 7-footer Omer Asik.

While he was exercising on a foam roller, Young flashed out a smile and joked, “So much for winning 6th Man of the Year!” He jokingly referenced that as a goal after his demotion, showing the positive attitude he had while averaging 17 points on 56.5 percent shooting in 24 minutes in the past two games as a reserve. That marked an improvement over after averaging 8.3 points on only a 27 percent clip in his first two games as a starter.

Henry showed a mixed bag as a starter, following up his 18-point effort on 5 of 11 shooting Sunday vs. Atlanta with only five points on 2 of 8 shooting in the Lakers’ loss Tuesday in Dallas.

“He briefly talked to me and Nick about it. It wasn’t a big deal,” Henry said. “I’m going to bring the same game I always do no matter what I’m playing.”

That hasn’t translated on the court, though. In the Lakers’ two wins wins, Henry has averaged 20 points on 54.2 percent shooting. In the Lakers’ three losses, Henry has posted 7.3 points on 26 percent shooting.

“It’s real early in the season to be able to tell,” Henry said when asked about the inconsistent shooting numbers. “But I’ve seen little things they’ve talked about. We’ll see. It’s early. We’ll see how the season goes.”

Even with Henry’s inconsistent marksmanship, he still has brought consistent energy. That played a large part in originally starting.

“I just do the same thing I’ve always done,” Henry said. “I play. I don’t think too much into it. I do everything the same, work out the same and prepare the same. I don’t read too much into it. I still bring a lot of energy. I’m in my spots on defense. I help cause a lot of turnovers. I’m in a lot of spaces I’m supposed to be. Even when my shot’s not going down, I’m still making an impact on the game.”

Follow L.A. Daily News Lakers beat writer Mark Medina on Twitter. E-mail him at mark.medina@dailynews.com

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