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Lakers’ Matt Barnes to have knee surgery

Jan 8, 2011, 7:21 PM EDT

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UPDATE 7:21 pm: Barnes will undergo surgery early next week for a torn lateral meniscus in his right knee.

He is expected to be out at least two months, which means a March return (before the playoffs). This will mean more minutes for Ron Artest and likely Luke Walton behind him. The Lakers may also use Kobe at the three and Shannon Brown at the two at times.

•••••

12:00 pm: Outside of Andrew Bynum’s knee and the cavalcade of Kobe Bryant injuries that seem to not faze him in the slightest, one of the biggest boons the Lakers have received on their way to their championships has been good health. But after Matt Barnes sprained his knee in last night’s win over the Hornets, Phil Jackson is “concerned” the injury may be more serious than that.

Barnes is scheduled for an MRI today to determine the severity of the injury.

Losing Barnes for any extended period of time would be fairly devastating for the Lakers, even with their depth.  Barnes has been the savvier, more consistent, more stable Ron Artest this year while Artest struggles with both his shot and his continuing issues in the triangle, as well as some tufts with Phil Jackson. Barnes gives the Lakers a toughness that Jackson appreciates as well as being able to space the floor. He backs down from approximately no one and will give the hard foul when at all necessary.

Lamar Odom has been nicked up, Kobe Bryant is dealing with a myriad of issues, Steve Blake tweaked an ankle last night, Andrew Bynum is always one bad step away from crumbling to dust like he’d just made out with Medusa, and Derek Fisher keeps having to turn down requests from the Smithsonian to put him in the Museum of Natural History. Losing Barnes would be a pretty terrible way to start 2011, a year which the Lakers need to go better than the end of 2010.

Then again, the Lakers have had pretty stellar luck during this run, and the test could reveal nothing more than a sprain.

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