Matt Barnes insists he's healthy
A vocal section in Staples Center constantly chanted Matt Barnes' name in hopes he would enter the lineup. But the Lakers' forward remained seated.
The Lakers' 96-71 victory Tuesday over the Utah Jazz featured Lakers Coach Mike Brown giving Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol extra run since the team has a day off and it proved as an opportunity to learn the system. Still, many of the starters rested early, reserves played more and everyone had a good time. But Barnes could hardly feel good about his situation, despite many of the 18,997 fans at Staples Center pleading for him to enter the game.
Barnes didn't play at all, as the team has listed him with bursitis in his left hip. But after the game, Barnes made it clear in the locker room that he feels completely healthy.
He didn't publicly comment after that, perhaps not wanting to be seen as complaining about a lack of playing time. After all, Barnes showed immense professionalism while he remained sidelined. He high-fived all the starters during player introductions, and even pushed Pau Gasol to pump him up. Barnes constantly stood up and clapped after the Lakers scored. And when Lakers Coach Mike Brown formally named Devin Ebanks as the team's starting small forward last week, Barnes vowed to properly weigh his competitive frustration while accepting his role.
Barnes played in 14 minutes so far this season and was even passed for Luke Walton on the frontcourt depth chart. Barnes didn't help his cause in the Lakers' 100-91 loss Monday to the Sacramento Kings by collecting three fouls, but Brown maintained he still liked his energy as he posted four points, three blocks and three rebounds.
Entering training camp, Brown considered Barnes to have the "advantage" for the starting small forward spot. But the Lakers remained impressed with Ebanks' improvement, while believing Metta World Peace will offer leadership as the first small forward off the bench. It remains to be seen to what degree Barnes' role will change. But one thing is clear: Barnes says he remains healthy.
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Photo: Lakers forward Matt Barnes has only played 14 minutes through three regular-season games so far. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times / December 9, 2011