Lakers express concern over injuries to Derek Fisher and Matt Barnes
Within moments, both Lakers guard Derek Fisher and reserve forward Matt Barnes raised severe concerns about the team's health.
Fisher left toward the end of the third quarter of the Lakers' 92-84 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats on Friday with a sprained left elbow after his arm got tangled with former Laker Kwame Brown as the two attempted to grab a rebound. Fisher fell to the floor in pain at the 3:36 mark after Brown fought for the ball after the whistle. Meanwhile, Barnes expected to return to the lineup after sitting out the past 25 games while recovering from knee surgery, but he said afterward that he aggravated a nerve while stretching during pregame warmups.
The Lakers are officially listing both injuries as day to day, and both players are to be reevaluated Saturday before the Lakers travel for their game Sunday against San Antonio. But the Lakers' tone afterwards reflected genuine concern.
"I don't know what to say about Matt. I don't know when he's going to be ready or if," said Coach Phil Jackson, who had hoped to phase in Barnes for an undetermined amount of minutes off the bench to avoid a transitional phase during the Lakers' upcoming four-game trip. "But that's one of those situations you don't like to see happen. He knew something was wrong."
Meanwhile, Jackson expressed more optimism about Fisher's playing status, saying he believes he will be able to play Sunday against San Antonio. That sentiment reflects more of Jackson's praise for Fisher's toughness than his actual health. Fisher is the league leader in consecutive games played, appearing in 476 in a row since April 15, 2005.
"It's going to create some trauma in his arm elbow, etc., maybe even shoulder," Jackson said about Fisher. "We're concerned about it. I want to get him back and get him icing that arm as soon as possible so he'll be ready on Sunday. I think he'll be ready. He's strong as an ox, so he has enough strength to hold it together."
"Fish is a tough guy, we all know that," Lakers reserve guard Shannon Brown added. "Unless [his arm's]actually detached, he's definitely going to be out there playing."
Against Charlotte, however, Jackson exercised caution when deciding whether or not to keep Fisher in the lineup. Fisher, who scored two points on one of six shooting in 17 minutes and 30 seconds of play, avoided most reporters after the game. But Brown indicated Fisher's anger and frustration over the injury and in having to head to the locker room.
"He didn't want to come out of the game," Brown said of Fisher, whose performances after the All-Star break reflected improvement compared to his regular season averages in points (6.7, 7.8) and shooting percentage (39.1%, 40%), "Coach, it was his call. Fish wasn't happy about it, but I'm sure it's probably going to help."
Barnes was both more forthcoming and understanding regarding the team's want to exercise caution.
"It was very frustrating," Barnes said. "I was so excited to play tonight. I went out there and tried to get it going during warmups, but it just didn't feel right, so better safe than sorry."
-- Mark Medina
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