Originally written on Purple and Gold Blog  |  Last updated 11/17/14

When Matt Barnes signed a 2-year contract with the Lakers in the summer of 2010, the team thought they had just added another tough defender and a player who will always do the little things that are easily forgotten but will always be big factors to winning a game and, in turn, another title. But a foot injury hampered Barnes for the second half of the season and undoubtedly played a big role in their early exit in the playoffs last season.

Well, that's all in the past now.

Since being placed in the starting lineup, the defense, rebounding and fast breaks have looked much better for the Lakers. Not only that, Matt's shooting (51%) from the field and at the free-throw line (88.2%) have made honing in on Kobe Bryant, Pau Gasol, and Andrew Bynum tougher for the opposing defense.

Confidence is never a question with Barnes. But with his foot now healthy and playing for a coach who prioritizes the very things that make his game as a basketball player, Matt just looks much more relaxed out on the floor.

His passing is also something to take note of. Did you see his lob pass to Kobe for a reverse dunk and his pinpoint pass to Gasol who was being fronted against the Phoenix Suns last night? That may be the result of Mike Brown's practice routines, but those passes wouldn't be successful if Matt is a mediocre passer.

Barnes may not be the ideal player the Lakers need with athleticism, speed or a deadshot stroke from distance, but he's filling the role of a difference maker.

A lot of times, that's all any team needs to win.
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