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Matt Barnes to play Friday against Charlotte

March 4, 2011 | 12:34 pm

Barnes_300 After missing the past 25 games following right knee surgery, Lakers forward Matt Barnes will return to the lineup Friday against the Charlotte Bobcats.

"We didn't do a whole lot of activity, but he was fine from yesterday's practice," Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said Friday after the morning shootaround at the team's practice facility in El Segundo. "He'll be dressed and ready to go tonight."

Jackson didn't specify how many minutes Barnes will play against the Bobcats, but said he didn't have any additional pain or swelling. The Lakers welcome Barnes' return to the lineup considering they enter Friday's game having lost eight of their last 10 to Charlotte and that Barnes provides aggressive play and energy. He averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes off the bench in 37 games before suffering a lateral meniscus tear in his right knee Jan. 7 in the Lakers' 101-97 victory over New Orleans.

Lakers Coach Phil Jackson on Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks

"He elevates the game because of his speed," Jackson said of Barnes. "He keeps the game a little bit quicker. His cutting is effective."

Barnes hopes to broaden those skill sets. He asked Jackson during his rehab process for tapes detailing the triangle offense at the guard position, something Barnes thought would be helpful in understanding the offense better and diversifying his value.

Though Jackson said he and the coaching staff would have to work on those concepts with Barnes in practice beforehand, Jackson openly envisioned playing Barnes sometime during the postseason at the guard position.

"Even though Matt's ball-handling isn't a priority for him," Jackson said, "we think he can ...  play the position."

-- Mark Medina

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