The bad news just keeps coming for Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Clippers, who did not travel with the team on their two-games-in-two-days road trip due to an eye contusion. He'll miss tonight's game against the Timberwolves and tomorrow night's showdown with the Thunder. Barnes, who missed most of pre-season and then suffered a bruised thigh that kept him out of some early games, has never really gotten going this season. He was a key contributor off of a very productive Clippers bench last season, and his absence and slow start, along with the departure of Eric Bledsoe, is a big reason that the Clippers bench has been so bad this season, after being so good last year.
Barnes suffered the injury against the Grizzlies, when Zach Randolph inadvertently slapped him across the face after Barnes had stripped the ball from Z-Bo. To add insult to injury, Barnes was called for a foul on the play. (Barnes and Randolph are close friends and Z-Bo apologized immediately for the inadvertent blow.)
Barnes' absence makes an already difficult task that much more difficult, as the Clippers head into road games on back-to-back nights against two very good teams bent on revenge. Especially against Oklahoma City, where Barnes is arguably the team's best defensive option against Kevin Durant, this is a significant loss. (Then again, Barnes wasn't around for the second half of the game against the Thunder in L.A. after being ejected before halftime, and the Clippers' defense shut down the Thunder without him, so maybe they'll be fine.)
In his absence, you can expect to see a bit more of rookie Reggie Bullock. Doc Rivers seems to be getting more and more comfortable with Bullock, who has defended and rebounded well in limited minutes so far this season. He hasn't made a shot since his first game, missing seven straight, six of them three pointers. But he looks comfortable shooting, and he certainly isn't shy. I'm sure Doc is telling the rookie to keep firing, that the shots will fall.