Lakers forward Matt Barnes pulls down a rebound next to Nuggets center Kosta… (Wally Skalij / Los Angeles…)
Matt Barnes returned to an empty arena.
It was 11:15 p.m., about an hour after the Lakers' 104-100 victory over the Denver Nuggets in Game 2 of their first-round playoff series on Tuesday night, and there was Barnes back on the court doing something he had struggled with all night: shooting.
Barnes has made only two of his 11 shots in the two playoff games, going 0 for 7 from three-point range. Though he described his sprained right ankle as only 75%-78% recovered, Barnes worked out with Lakers development coach Phil Handy, taking a wide range of jumpers from the baseline, the elbows at the top of the lane and from three-point range.
It served as one way Barnes hopes he can become more effective while playing with an injury. Though Barnes didn't talk to reporters after Thursday's practice, Lakers Coach Mike Brown suggested Barnes will have to simply play through it.
"He's still bothered by the injury," Brown said. "But . . . " He then trailed off, making the implication clear.
Regardless of Barnes' poor shooting numbers, however, Brown said he remains satisfied with his play. As Metta World Peace has served part of a seven-game suspension for striking Thunder guard James Harden in the head with an elbow, Barnes has averaged four rebounds, 2.5 assists, two steals and one blocked shot in 24 minutes off the bench.
"He's given us energy, but I know that he feels he hasn't shot the ball well," Brown said. "That's why he stayed and got some extra reps. But the energy is there, the athleticism is there and the defense is there. He knows and I know he could play better. But it's not to a point where it's been a detriment to us."
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Mike Brown says Matt Barnes' ankle injury won't limit his minutes