The pain in surrounding the bone bruise in Xavier Henry’s right knee has hurt so much that he hasn’t played in nearly two months.
But that didn’t stop him from fitting in a few dunks during his first two practice sessions this weekend that entailed everything except for full-court five-on-five drills.
“I can dunk. I jumped higher than most of these guys,” Henry said after Sunday’s shootaround in preparation for the Lakers’ game tonight at 6 p.m. against the Brooklyn Nets at Staples Center. “It feels good. It feels good right now.”
Don’t mistake Henry’s high-flying act as carelessness. Henry received medical clearance on Friday to resume all basketball activities after mostly performing non-weight bearing exercises while sitting out for the past 24 games. Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni also estimated Henry will advance to full-court five-on-five drills within the next week. Considering the Lakers plan to take Thursday off following a pair of road games in Indiana (Tuesday) and Memphis (Wednesday), the earliest that could take place would happen next weekend.
That leaves the possibility Henry could return as early as March 3 in Portland, though that obviously hinges on how his knee responds to the full-court five-on-five drills.
“It’s a process. I thought it was going to be faster than it has been,” Henry said. “But they’ve brought me here for a reason. Now it’s feeling a lot better. Hopefully soon I can play.”
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