Matt Barnes to start at small forward against Clippers
Although the starting small forward spot remains undetermined, Lakers Coach Mike Brown said Matt Barnes has the "advantage" in earning that position.
For now, Barnes will start at small forward in Monday's preseason game against the Clippers, while Brown plans to start Devin Ebanks in Wednesday's game against the same team.
"He's been a little bit more consistent," Brown said of Barnes. "He's done a few more things, especially on the defensive end of the floor. He obviously has the experience, been here and done that many times before. That's what helps him out right now."
Barnes' 6.7 points per game on 47% shooting and 4.3 rebounds in 19.2 minutes during the 2010-11 season dipped to 3.6 points per game on 37% shooting and 2.8 rebounds in 13.1 minutes in the playoffs, partly because his limitation stemming from a lateral mensiscus tear that sidelined him for 26 games and requires surgery. With the prolonged NBA lockout, Barnes has said his knee has felt nearly healthy, and expects few side affects once the season starts.
Meanwhile, Ebanks comes off his rookie season where he appeared in 20 games and averaged 3.1 points and 1.4 rebounds in 5.9 minutes a contest. But both Brown and Lakers guard Kobe Bryant have publicly touted Ebanks as capable for fulfilling a starting role because of his work ethic, improved shot and defensive aggressiveness. But Brown remains wary of Ebanks' confidence level.
"I need a small forward who wants to defend, run the floor in every single possession," Brown said. "He might not get a single touch when he runs, but he'll put pressure on the defense every time he runs. I need him to rebound, slash and if that ball gets swung to him, knock down that with confidence."
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Photo: Lakers forward Matt Barnes bears a big grin as he returns to work Friday during the team's first practice. Credit: Luis Sinco / Los Angeles Times