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Lakers’ Barnes likely to have knee surgery Tuesday
LOS ANGELES (AP) - Los Angeles Lakers forward Matt Barnes is likely to have surgery Tuesday to repair torn cartilage in his right knee, an injury expected to sideline him for several weeks.
The Lakers announced the probable date of Barnes' surgery Sunday night before hosting the New York Knicks. They haven't projected a definite timetable for his recovery.
Barnes was hurt Friday night in a victory over New Orleans when he came down awkwardly on his leg while battling Jarrett Jack for a rebound. An MRI on Saturday revealed a torn lateral meniscus.
Lakers coach Phil Jackson isn't worried about filling the minutes provided by Barnes, who signed with Los Angeles for less than his probable market value last summer to chase his first championship.
Barnes is averaging 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds while providing a defensive spark in his first season with the Lakers. He had his biggest game for Los Angeles in Minnesota on Nov. 19 when he scored 24 points on 7-for-7 shooting, including five 3-pointers without a miss.
Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest and Luke Walton all will log more minutes in Barnes' absence. The Lakers also recalled rookie Devin Ebanks from Bakersfield of the D-League on Sunday to add depth.
Bryant is averaging just over 33 minutes this season, down starkly from last season's 38.8 minutes. The extra time off has helped his nagging injuries, including his perpetually sore knees, and Bryant said he'd have no problem picking up more playing time.
Jackson also expects Artest to raise his game in Barnes' absence. Artest is averaging career-lows of 7.7 points and 2.9 rebounds while playing just 27.1 minutes per game this season, making just 39.9 percent of his shots and dropping entirely out of the Lakers' offensive game plan on many nights.
"I think (Artest) looks forward to it," Jackson said of the veteran forward's increased role. "He knows this year has been kind of a cruise."
Jackson also thinks Walton will respond well to more playing time. The seven-year pro has played just 149 minutes in 21 games this season after missing most of last season with injuries.
By John R. Bolton
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