Matt Barnes: Ready to play enforcer, or at least enforcer's sidekick

March, 1, 2012
3/01/12
12:44
PM PT
Kamenetzky By Brian Kamenetzky
ESPNLosAngeles.com
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Kobe Bryant did what he could following Wednesday's win over Minnesota to diffuse any talk of bad blood between himself and Miami's Dwyane Wade -- at this point, do I need to explain what I'm referring to? -- ahead of Sunday's game. Clearly his words of moderation never reached Matt Barnes.

The Lakers forward said last night he saw the foul Wade put on Kobe in the All-Star Game as part of a pattern in which opposing teams are allowed to push the Lakers around without fear of consequences, in part because "me and [Metta World Peace] act like we're going to do stuff, and get flagrant fouls called on us. Hopefully they'll let us play. If they're going to let the league play physical, they need to start letting our team play physical."

Barnes, who said he views Metta as the team's true enforcer (not unreasonably) and himself as the enforcer's "sidekick" later reiterated his point. "If they're gonna let our star players continue to get beat up," he said, referencing not just the Wade foul but the one delivered by Brendan Haywood to Pau Gasol Feb. 22 in Dallas, "we're going to have to step up."

Barnes' comments reflect the sort of "us against the world" language coming out of the locker room meeting the players had 10 or so days ago, and it's anyone's guess how this sort of talk might play out on the floor, whether in Sunday's game against the Heat or any of the other 30 left on the slate. The Lakers don't have much margin for error against the league's best teams and can't afford to do anything stupid during games -- something Mike Brown would be wise to emphasize -- but given the style of play they've adopted (by virtue of coaching style and necessity) whatever adds even the slightest sense of hesitation in the minds of opposing players could help.

Not sure the talk qualifies, but a couple clean-but-hard fouls for people to watch on tape might.

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TEAM LEADERS

POINTS
Nick Young
PTS AST STL MIN
17.9 1.5 0.7 28.3
OTHER LEADERS
ReboundsP. Gasol 9.7
AssistsK. Marshall 8.8
StealsJ. Meeks 1.4
BlocksP. Gasol 1.5