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Tuesday, April 24, 2012
Matt Barnes (ankle) won't travel to Sacramento

By Brian Kamenetzky

EL SEGUNDO -- Over the last few weeks, the Lakers have been bolstered by improved play at the small forward position.

Now, they have serious depth issues.

Matt Barnes did not practice Tuesday and will not make the trip to Sacramento for Thursday’s regular season finale against the Kings thanks to a sprained right ankle. Barnes suffered the injury during the first half of Sunday’s 114-106 double overtime win over the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center. He managed to play just over nine minutes in the third quarter, but didn’t play in the fourth or either extra session.

Starting small forward Metta World Peace is expected to be suspended after elbowing Oklahoma City’s James Harden in the head with 1:37 remaining in the second quarter Sunday.

The issues don’t stop there. Second year forward Devin Ebanks, who finished Sunday’s game after World Peace’s ejection and Barnes’ suffered bruises on his left ring and middle fingers after dropping a weight on his hand during a workout.

He is probable for Thursday’s game, and is a strong candidate to start.

Head coach Mike Brown acknowledged the lack of bodies could be a problem.

“There’s concern there. We don’t want any of our guys out if we can help it. But Metta has to abide by what the league says, whatever that means. Matt has to get healthy and then same Devin,” he said. “Otherwise, we’ve got to fit guys in how they can. But nobody’s going to feel sorry for us right now, so we’ve got to figure out how to get wins.”

Barnes, who missed 26 games last season after surgery to repair torn cartilage in his right knee, was playing arguably his best basketball since signing with the Lakers before the 2010-11 season, averaging 8.8 points, 7.8 rebounds, and 3.2 assists in 26.8 minutes through 13 games in April.