Lakers, Metta World Peace wait for other shoe, or hammer, to drop

Los Angeles Times (MCT)

Published: Monday, April 23 2012 12:00 a.m. MDT

LOS ANGELES _ Monday was anything but manic for the Lakers, the time dripping by slowly as they awaited a ruling on Metta World Peace that never arrived from the NBA.

The Lakers forward will surely be suspended for throwing an out-of-control elbow at Oklahoma City guard James Harden, though the need for an official edict from the league's disciplinary office in New York is lessened because the Lakers don't play again until Thursday.

The Lakers didn't practice Monday and World Peace was suspiciously quiet on Twitter, but media members were ablaze with thoughts.

"Harden's status remains unknown, and really, so does Metta World Chaos'," wrote columnist Berry Tramel of The Oklahoman. "A player with a rap sheet like Chaos' will draw a hefty penalty from NBA commissioner David Stern. Some say five games, some say 10, some say more. But Stern has a problem. Whatever penalty he selects, he knows it's fully punitive. None of the penalty will be rehabilitative. Chaos has shown himself to be unchangeable."

LeBron James had to cover his face with a towel while watching World Peace's flagrant foul live Sunday on TV in the Miami locker room, trying not to laugh with reporters present while calling it one of the "craziest" things he'd ever seen.

Other players and, uh, entities weighed in as well.

Clippers players discussed the event among themselves in the locker room Sunday after beating New Orleans, trying to figure out how long World Peace's suspension would last.

A gambling website, Bovada, even put the over-under at 7{ games.

Harden was listed as day-to-day, according to the Thunder, which issued a statement late Monday that he participated in a series of limited activities per NBA guidelines, but "has additional steps that must be taken under the league-mandated concussion policy before he can make his return to the court."

The Oklahoman is reporting that Harden probably will not play Tuesday against Sacramento or in a regular-season finale Wednesday against Denver.

Meanwhile, another Lakers small forward, Matt Barnes, went to their training facility Monday for treatment on a sprained right ankle that was called "very tender" by a team spokesman.

There will probably be updates on World Peace and Barnes on Tuesday, giving the Lakers some clarity on their immediate future . . . and whether they have any small forwards available beyond Devin Ebanks.

They complete the regular season at Sacramento before beginning the playoffs this weekend at Staples Center against an opponent to be determined.

Ebanks didn't back down while defending Kevin Durant on Sunday, and he also had two clutch steals in the second overtime, but the Lakers don't have much beyond him at the position right now _ particularly if World Peace is suspended.

Kobe Bryant could shift from shooting guard and the Lakers could add backup help by recalling Christian Eyenga from the Development League. The second-year player came over from Cleveland in the Ramon Sessions trade last month but has played only for the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

The Lakers will wait to see if they even need to play with any determination on Thursday. If the Clippers lose in Atlanta on Tuesday or New York on Wednesday, third place in the Western Conference automatically goes to the Lakers, making Thursday's game moot and providing a chance for some Lakers starters to rest.

World Peace had been playing some of his best basketball in three seasons with the Lakers. He is averaging 14.2 points in April and has played solid defense. He had 12 points and three steals Sunday when he was ejected with 1:37 left in the second quarter of the Lakers' 114-106 double-overtime victory.

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