Tryouts over, Matt Barnes is Lakers starter at small forward

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

Matt Barnes is one of the few Lakers who likes to run ahead of the pack with the ball in his hands. He’s also as grating as sandpaper when he’s playing defense. He’s gone from sitting on the bench to earning the starting small forward position.

The auditions ended tonight, coach Mike Brown said.

Devin Ebanks, a second-year player, started the Lakers’ first four games before Brown decided he might get better results with the veteran Barnes in the starting lineup and the inexperienced Ebanks sitting on the bench.

Metta World Peace started all 82 games when he was known as Ron Artest last season, but Brown wanted him to play an important new role as the leader of the second unit. So, the starting job went first to Ebanks and then to Barnes.

Brown said he was impressed enough by Barnes’ 16 points, plus six rebounds and five assists in the Lakers’ victory Friday over the Golden State Warriors to keep him in the starting lineup for Sunday’s game against the Memphis Grizzlies.

Barnes then won over Brown by scoring 15 points on 5-for-9 shooting and grabbing 10 rebounds during the Lakers’ 90-82 victory over the Grizzlies at Staples Center. He also blocked three shots, including two in the fourth quarter.

“He’s my small forward for the foreseeable future,” Brown said. “He earned it. He’s held onto it and he’s played the right way for us at that position. … I thought Matt deserved to be out on the floor.

“Matt Barnes played a whale of a game on both ends of the floor. He’s playing within the system and it’s exciting to see a guy his size, with his athleticism, with his energy and his quickness play the game the right way. He had 15 (points) and 10 (rebounds), but the defensive intensity he brought to the table tonight (also) was good to see.”

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