During a shooting drill, Lakers forwards Matt Barnes and Devin Ebanks stood on opposite sides of the same basket hoisting jumpers.
Each time one went in, they shouted encouragement to each other. Lakers basketball operations assistant Kyle Triggs stood by collecting the balls. But if one landed out of Triggs' reach, both Ebanks and Barnes willingly hustled for the loose ball and passed it back to his teammate.
With Lakers Coach Mike Brown "still searching" for the best lineup rotation, Barnes and Ebanks have separated their hope to win the starting small forward spot from their support for each other.
"Guys have to be on their P's and Q's," Brown said, and that includes Ebanks and Barnes holding any frustration about their minutes in check.
Barnes' 16-point effort and strong defense on Monta Ellis in the Lakers' 97-90 win over the Golden State Warriors made Brown concede that a string of similar performances would "help out" his cause in landing a permanent starting spot. Meanwhile, Ebanks took a rapid fall after starting in the first four games to remaining on the bench in four of the last five. But Ebanks still relishes competing with Barnes.
"We're very supportive of each other," Ebanks said. "We know the business of the game. Somebody has to sit down. That's pretty much what it is."
When Ebanks started the first four games of the season, Barnes remained seated at the far end of the bench, even attempted to check himself in during one game he didn't play and received zero minutes in two of those contests. But he tweeted a congratulatory message to Ebanks on the starting spot and helped him keep his confidence level up.
"I definitely think it's a competitive spirit, but we're all still friends," Barnes said. "We all hang out. It's not a rivalry. When the other is out there, you cheer for them."