Metta World Peace changed his name from Ron Artest before this season, but he’s dealing with the same old controversy after his elbow to the head of Oklahoma City guard James Harden on Sunday.
World Peace was ejected just before halftime in the Lakers’ 114-106 double-overtime victory over the Thunder. He was pounding his chest with his right hand to celebrate a dunk, and then he threw his left elbow into Harden, who came into his way.
World Peace issued the following statement after the game: “I got really emotional, really excited. And it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with the unintentional elbow. I hope he’s OK. The Thunder, they’re playing for a championship this year. So I really hope he’s OK, and I apologize to the Thunder and to James Harden. Such a great game, and it was unfortunate so much emotion was going on at that time.”
World Peace could be suspended by the NBA for the Lakers’ regular-season finale Thursday in Sacramento. He was replaced by second-year player Devin Ebanks for most of the game Sunday, in part because usual backup Matt Barnes was dealing with a sprained right ankle.
Ebanks guarded Kevin Durant decently in the Lakers’ victory, logging 27 minutes to Barnes’ 17. Ebanks started the season as the Lakers’ starting small forward but has often not played late in the season.
NOTES, QUOTES On verge of No. 3 seed –The Lakers can lock up the Western Conference’s third seed with a victory at Sacramento on Thursday — if they haven’t already clinched it with a Clippers loss in their final three games. The Lakers are on track to face Dallas or Denver in the first round and will have home-court advantage. –The Lakers’ rally from 18 points behind to defeat Oklahoma City on Sunday was mainly because of improved pick-and-roll defense, according to Lakers coach Mike Brown. Said Brown: “Our intensity picked up, our physicality picked up, and we were able to put ourselves in position to win.” QUOTE TO NOTE: “Momentum is big going into the playoffs.” — Lakers guard Steve Blake.
ROSTER REPORT PLAYER NOTES: –G Ramon Sessions played Sunday without the pad covering his sprained left shoulder. He is still dealing with a sore right index finger. He had just eight points and three assists, with Steve Blake playing in his place late in the victory against Oklahoma City. –F Metta World Peace is facing a possible NBA suspension for his elbow to the head of Oklahoma City guard James Harden in the second quarter Sunday. World Peace was having another good game at the time, having scored 12 points with three steals in 18 minutes, but he was ejected with 1:37 left in the second quarter. –F Jordan Hill was given a chance to play, and he took full advantage of it with 14 points, tying his season high, and 15 rebounds, tying his career high, on Sunday. Hill will continue to back up Pau Gasol and Andrew Bynum, with the Lakers hoping to get a defensive presence from Hill instead of Josh McRoberts.