Los Angeles Lakers reserve forward Matt Barnes made an appearance in last night’s Lakers and Nuggets television broadcast. Barnes may not have been suited up to play, but he provided pre-game commentary on the local television station, KCAL9.
Barnes landed awkwardly on his right knee in the first half of a 101-97 Lakers victory over the New Orleans Hornets on January 7. An MRI later revealed that he tore the lateral meniscus in his right knee.
Barnes underwent successful knee surgery on January 11 and is currently rehabilitating. He was expected to be out for eight weeks, but Barnes is anticipating that he may get back even sooner than initially planned.
“Evrythings going really well,” Barnes stated on his Twitter account. “Can’t put my finger on when exactly ill be back BUT I’m pretty sure i won’t be out the full 8 weeks.”
In 37 games, Barnes averaged 7.4 points and 4.8 rebounds in 20.8 minutes per game.
The same energy and enthusiasm he brought to the court was present during his commentary. However, the Lakers organization would certainly like to see him back in a Lakers uniform as soon as possible.
Artest gets season-high
While Barnes is rehabilitating, Lakers forward Ron Artest has been the beneficiary of increased minutes. This may also be a reason for his increased production this month.
In the 107-97 victory against the Denver Nuggets last night, Artest scored a season-high 19 points.
From the start of the season until the end of December, Artest had 12 games in which he scored double figures. In January alone, he already has seven.
In December, he averaged 6.5 points per game. He’s averaging almost 10 points in January.
Last night, the 11-year-veteran also knocked down a couple of timely three-pointers. In fact, his three-point shooting has also improved in January. He was shooting 35 percent from the beginning of the season until the end of December. So far in January, he’s finding the rim with more accuracy from downtown—50 percent.
Artest offered the LA Times his explanation of his improved play.
“I started off the season really well,” said Artest, who claimed he dropped his weight prior to the start of the season. “I’m in more shape. I had a great training camp and early season and something happened and things weren’t going my way. I had to just deal with it. But for me, nothing’s changed.”
Whatever the reason, even if there’s reason at all, Lakers coach Phil Jackson must be reprimanding Artest a lot less these days—unless, of course, word gets leaked out by someone within the Lakers organization.