Lakers forward Devin Ebanks goes up for a shot against Knicks center Tyson… (Mark J. Terrill / Associated…)
Reporting from Portland, Ore. -- Three games had come and gone before Devin Ebanks finally appeared on the court, a rapid fall from starting small forward to end-of-bench afterthought.
"Definitely, I'm frustrated," Ebanks said Thursday in a quiet moment outside the visitors' locker room before the Lakers played Portland. "It's a little block in the road right now and the key is to keep working hard. Matt [Barnes] wasn't playing when I was [starting] and he handled it professionally so I've got to be the same way."
Ebanks had a goal coming into his second NBA season — win the wide-open competition at small forward.
"I had it and it was taken from me," he said. "Now I've just got to get it back."
He started the Lakers' first four games, averaging five points and 3.3 rebounds until Coach Mike Brown replaced him with the veteran Barnes. Ebanks slid on the depth chart below second-stringer Metta World Peace and did not play again until Thursday.
"If I were him, I'd obviously be upset," Brown said. "But I'd also respect the fact that this is a team thing and [tell myself] I've got to make sure that I'm keeping ready for when my number's called."
He was erratic against Portland, missing four of five shots, including a dunk attempt, and getting called for traveling. He finished with five points and four rebounds in 16 minutes while committing four fouls.
Barnes didn't play much in the second half against the Trail Blazers, finishing with six points and seven rebounds in the Lakers' 107-96 loss.
McRoberts out again
The Lakers needed all the energy they could muster in their traditionally tricky visit to Portland, but one of their hustle guys didn't play.
Reserve power forward Josh McRoberts was sidelined again because of a sprained big toe on his left foot. He probably won't play Friday against Golden State either, Brown said.
"When we all feel good about it, then we'll get him back on the floor," Brown said.
McRoberts sustained the injury last week and played through it for a few games before being removed from the lineup before the victory Tuesday over Houston.
He has quickly become a fan favorite and is averaging 5.7 points and 5.7 rebounds in his first season with the Lakers.
What's in a name?
The game-operations people in Portland are some of the league's best, often coming up with creative in-game features on their scoreboard.
They asked Trail Blazers players ahead of time which name they would choose if they could change it like the former Ron Artest. They showed the edited video during a timeout Thursday.
Nicolas Batum, a French citizen, said he would be Paris World Peace.
LaMarcus Aldridge said he would want to be called Metta World Peace 2.
Veteran center Kurt Thomas, however, didn't get into the spirit of things and didn't have much fun with the topic.
"Not a good question," he said into the camera.