Artest Out, Phil Mum on Game 3 SF Starter

In the regular season, the Lakers enjoyed the rare type of NBA consistency that saw four starters play all 82 games, and Phil Jackson have to use only two line ups all year:

1) Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Lamar Odom and Pau Gasol
2) Derek Fisher, Kobe Bryant, Ron Artest, Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum

He’ll have to try a third line up, however, in Game 3 of the Western Semi’s against Dallas, since Artest was suspended for a game for “swinging his arm and striking the face of the Dallas Mavericks’ J.J. Barea,” according to the NBA. The incident occurred with just 24.4 seconds left in Game 2, which L.A. lost 93-81.

Jackson wasn’t going to tell us who will start at small forward after Thursday’s practice, revealing only that we (the media) would find out prior to the game.

Judging from the past few seasons, however, Jackson is not likely to want to disrupt his front court rotation, so starting Odom would be unlikely. We may have expected Matt Barnes to start at small forward, with Luke Walton getting reserve minutes, and Kobe Bryant sliding up to the 3 at times in which Jackson has Shannon Brown at the two … but an alternative line up would be Brown starting at the two, and Bryant at the three.

Artest really struggled offensively in the first two games, hitting only 27.8 percent of his shots, including 1-of-7 from three-point range after a really solid shooting performance in Round 1.

Barnes attempted only eight shots in Games 1 and 2, making two, in 13.0 mpg, but the Lakers surely hope he’ll be able to better establish a rhythm by playing big road minutes in a playoff game, something he’s never done in Purple and Gold. Brown went a combined 6-of-10 in the first two games, missing the only three triple he made but finished well at and around the rim.

We’ll see how it all pans out in a bit over 24 hours when Game 3 tips in Dallas.