AUBURN HILLS, Mich. — For the first time this season, the Clippers started Matt Barnes at small forward in place of the struggling Jared Dudley.
Dudley had started 42 consecutive games, while Barnes had come off the bench in the first 23 games he played in this season, but that all changed Monday against the Detroit Pistons.
Clippers Coach Doc Rivers inserted Barnes into the lineup, and the veteran had 10 points on four-for-eight shooting plus five rebounds.
"Doc came to me early this [Monday] morning and said he wanted to make a switch," Barnes said. "With this team, it's about winning. If he felt switching that up was going to help us go, it's good for the team."
Dudley had seven points, making all three of his shots, in 18 minutes.
"It wasn't that big of a difference because I've done it before. I've actually been more of a bench player than a starter throughout my career," Dudley said. "I'm still going to shoot the same type of shots. The role is very, very similar."
Rivers said he had told Dudley and Barnes before the season the starting position could be fluid.
"That's a lineup that I hope at some point that we can go back and forth on," Rivers said.
Barnes has a sprained left thumb and he wore a splint for protection in the game Monday.
But for the most part he finally is healthy, Rivers said.
Rivers just wants Barnes to get on the same page as his coach.
"Matt's idea of playing well and my idea of playing well are completely different," Rivers said. "Matt's idea of playing well is making shots. Listen, my idea for Matt playing well is his defense and his energy and getting the rebounds and winning the '50-50' game.
"We have offense. When Matt makes shots, that's great. We need him to do that. And Dudley, too. But Matt's role on this team is to be the captain of the 50-50 team. That's what he needs to do.…He is one of our key intangible players, and we haven't had that this year because of injuries."
Dudley had averaged 28.6 minutes per game, 8.7 points, but just 2.2 rebounds as a starter. He was shooting 45% from the field, 37.9% from three-point range this season, well below his career-averages of 47.1% and 40.1%, respectively.
"I do need him to improve defensively," Rivers said. "He knows what he can do and can't do. But he's just going to have to keep working on improving with the team concepts, and he's doing that. That's all I can ask."
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