Photo by AP/Chris Pizzello

Ron-Ron gone... The Lakers dead?

You knew it was going to happen. We all did. Even Phil Jackson hinted at it. With his public perception, questionable league reputation and constant up-and-downs, Ron Artest was bound to be suspended for his hit on J.J. Barea.

Well, today the NBA confirmed our suspicions. Ron Artest has been suspended for Game 3 in Dallas Friday night.

So heading into a must-win in Game 3, the Lakers will be without their toughest and craziest player. Without the guy who plays their best perimeter defense. At first, that sounds horrible. Are you serious? How can the Lakers win now?

You must have forgotten there are two sides to NBA basketball (or basketball in general). There’s the offensive side too. And in that respect, Artest struggles. Yes, he has played better in the postseason, but not against Dallas. He’s still struggling with his shot, his off-ball movement and with the Triangle offense in general. Ron-Ron stills shoots too many three-pointers (primarily his entire offensive repertoire), which is arguably his worst offensive skill.

At this point, the Lakers’ defense has no answer for Dirk Nowitzki. They can’t stop him. There’s just conceivable no way. At the same time, they haven’t played much better offensively. So with the departure of Artest, even if only for one game, things should clear up offensively (hopefully).

Who knows, maybe Matt Barnes will regain his mojo. He is a better off-the-ball player than Artest, constantly moving without the ball and making hard cuts to the basket (he also understands simple basketball plays… just kidding?). Barnes also can hit 3-pointers, which although isn’t his strong suit, is comparable to Artest’s shooting skills.

So maybe, just maybe, we’ll see a positive from this whole fiasco. The simple addition by subtraction (taking away Artest and his poor shooting) should help L.A.’s offense. The defense may suffer slightly, but Shawn Marion and Peja Stojackovic aren’t the ones killing the Lakers. Barnes isn’t a bad defender either, and may be the Lakers’ second best perimeter defender behind Artest (sorry if I’m leaving out Kobe Bryant and his bum ankle/knee/finger). If Barnes can contribute at all, you may see a pulse from L.A.’s bench moving forward.

Oh yeah, how about a Luke Walton sighting? Just kidding guys.

To contact Jovan, email him at [email protected] Follow him on Twitter @JovanBuha.

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Tags: Kobe Bryant Los Angeles Lakers Matt Barnes Phil Jackson Ron Artest

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