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Lakers' Josh McRoberts latest target of decreased playing time

The power forward, who averaged 17 minutes over a seven-game stretch that ended Jan. 28, has had his minutes drastically reduced recently.

February 04, 2012|By Ben Bolch
  • Lakers' Josh McRoberts sees his reduction of game time as motivation to play better.
Lakers' Josh McRoberts sees his reduction of game time as motivation… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)

Reporting from Salt Lake City -- Devin Ebanks opened the season in the starting lineup, moved to the bench and now plays sparingly.

Darius Morris went from benchwarmer to prominent backup to benchwarmer.

Josh McRoberts is the latest Laker to take a spin on the playing-time carousel; the power forward's minutes having been drastically curtailed recently.

After averaging 17 minutes per game over a seven-game stretch that ended against Milwaukee on Jan. 28, McRoberts barely played in the next three games. He had five-minute stints against Minnesota and Charlotte before remaining on the bench for all of the Lakers' 93-89 victory over Denver on Friday.

Is McRoberts the odd man out among the Lakers' big men?

"At least for the time being he is," Coach Mike Brown said, "but that can change at any time."

Brown said he had given Troy Murphy most of the minutes behind starters Andrew Bynum and Pau Gasol because of Murphy's ability to space the floor with his three-point shooting. Murphy had averaged 16 minutes per game in the three games before the Lakers played Utah on Saturday at EnergySolutions Arena.

The hustle-oriented McRoberts, who quickly established himself as a fan favorite in his first season with the Lakers, said he wasn't surprised by the reduced role.

"This is my fifth year now and this isn't the first time this has happened where you're playing big minutes and all of a sudden you're not playing," said McRoberts, who was averaging 3.1 points and 4.0 rebounds in 17.1 minutes before Saturday. "I mean, everybody wants to be out on the court for 48 minutes, but it's not discouraging for me. I'm going to keep working hard and continue to get better."

Technically speaking

Matt Barnes' technical foul against Denver on Friday was his fourth, putting him two behind Kobe Bryant for the team lead.

One major difference: Barnes averaged only 22 minutes per game before Saturday to Bryant's 38 minutes.

"We have not talked specifically about where he is total-wise right now," Brown said of Barnes' technicals, "but we have talked in the past about him getting T's."

Bryant picked up his latest technical in the first quarter Saturday after complaining about a no-call on a layup.

Brown said he did not agree with the technical Barnes received in the fourth quarter against the Nuggets for swinging his elbows while holding the ball on the perimeter.

"He was just making a rip-through move," Brown said, "and I didn't think it was as bad watching it on the tape as the officials did. I didn't really feel like it warranted a tech, but that's how they saw it."

Clippers envy?

The Clippers addressed a glaring need by signing Kenyon Martin, adding the veteran forward to bolster what had been a thin frontcourt.

Meanwhile, the Lakers continue to play with only one established point guard in the wake of Steve Blake's rib cartilage injury and could also use an upgrade at small forward, where Barnes, Ebanks, Metta World Peace and Luke Walton have provided spotty production.

Is Brown envious of how the Lakers' fellow Staples Center tenant continues to improve itself?

No, the Lakers coach said.

"It's a good roster," Brown said of the Clippers, "but I'm excited about the guys we have and I like our opportunity against them or anybody else."

ben.bolch@latimes.com

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