New Orleans Hornets coach Monty Williams dusted off sparingly used wing Xavier Henry against the Philadelphia 76ers on Tuesday, and the third-year Kansas product rewarded him, scoring five points in four minutes as part of a 19-7 run late in the third quarter that helped turn a six-point game into a blowout. And after picking off a Jrue Holiday pass near the end of the frame, Henry set his sights on plunging a dagger into Philly's heart just before the final buzzer.
Just one problem: It wasn't really just before the final buzzer.
Despite having nearly five seconds left on the game clock and teammate Roger Mason Jr. directly in front of him, in the middle of the court and about one dribble from half-court, Henry decided to hoist what, according to the play-by-play, was a 58-foot try. It didn't quite make it. Poor Xavier — total Hall and Oates territory.
The Hornets' announcers chalked Henry's premature chuck up to his relative inactivity of late — he'd played just 14 minutes over New Orleans' previous two games and racked up five straight DNP-CDs before that — but I think it had more to do with wanting to show Monty that A) he's got the kind of killer instinct that makes him want to put opponents away as soon as possible and B) he's not so hung up on his stats that he won't lob a three-quarter-court prayer for fear of dropping his shooting percentages. That's a veteran move from a young player; still, maybe just make the lead pass next time, Xavier.
The shot was one of just three Henry misses in seven tries on Tuesday, as the 21-year-old guard provided a needed boost off the Hornets' bench, chipping in 11 points, four rebounds, two steals and an assist in 15 minutes in New Orleans' 111-99 win over the 76ers, the Hornets' fifth W in their last six games. If he keeps offering that kind of spark, coach-mandated inactivity could soon stop ranking among Henry's problems.