World Peace’s help on defense seen as priority

DENVER — Ready or not, Metta World Peace will return Saturday.

It’s been almost three weeks since his last game, and he’s done a little of everything since then.

Went on Conan O’Brien’s talk show. Held a midnight movie party before a playoff game. Bought the Floyd Mayweather Jr.-Miguel Cotto fight for teammates.

The big question: How will he do in Game 7 against the Denver Nuggets?

“I feel pretty good,” World Peace said. “Feel fresh.”

He averaged 14.1 points in April and unleashed his most physically fiery play in three years with the Lakers — a stirring dunk over Kevin Durant — a few seconds before elbowing Oklahoma City guard James Harden in the head.

His seven-game suspension ended Thursday after Game 6 of the first round. The Lakers need him.

His replacement, Devin Ebanks, averaged 4.6 points in the first five playoff games. Ebanks had 10 points in Game 6.

“Metta’s eager to get back and help this team win games. He feels bad about what happened,” said Lakers assistant coach Darvin Ham, a former NBA power forward who has been pummeling World Peace in the post after team shoot-arounds.

The consensus among the coaching staff is that World Peace needs to think defense first.

Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person has been a confidant of World Peace for nine years, since Person was on the Indiana Pacers’ personnel staff and World Peace was an All-Star for them.

“One thing for sure, he understands who he is and for us that’s to defend, rebound and wreak havoc on that end of the floor,” Person said. “Then just let the offense come to him. If the shot’s open, you’ve got to take it. Don’t force anything because we have enough guys on our team that are primary scorers.”

World Peace has been seen by reporters in glimpses. He worked out with the team at practices and shoot-arounds but was not allowed in the arena during games.

“I think he’s going to be fine for three reasons,” Ham said. “There’s nothing like being in game shape, but it won’t take him long to get his game timing, based on how hard he works with our strength and conditioning staff, and all our coaches with his shooting.

“Second, the kid’s an all-around basketball player. He’s versatile. He’s always guarding the other team’s toughest offensive player.

“Third, he wants to show people that we’re a serious contender. He’s totally focused on the team goals. The incident that happened was unfortunate, but, that said, he’s been a leader for us this year.”

Authorities search Andersen’s home

Reserve Nuggets center Chris Andersen was excused indefinitely by the team after the Douglas County Sheriff’s Office searched his home Thursday with the detective unit in charge of Internet crimes against children.

Andersen, 33, had property seized from his home that was believed to be computer-related. He was neither arrested nor charged with a crime.

He had not played in the series against the Lakers. His playing time gradually decreased as this season progressed while Coach George Karl went with a younger frontcourt.

–Mike Bresnahan