Lakers, Metta World Peace wait for other shoe, or hammer, to drop
"Aw, man. He was dunking all over them dudes," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said after the game. "He dunked, like, on four people. It was crazy. He was playing very, very well.
"I think it's going to hurt missing him but we're a team and we've got to pick up the slack."
World Peace had just completed a fastbreak dunk against Durant and was aggressively pounding his chest when he swung an elbow that connected with the left side of Harden's head.
As Harden was down, World Peace exacerbated the situation by taking the belligerent posture of an angry boxer when Durant and Serge Ibaka approached him near midcourt. Referees had to step between them, and World Peace was ejected because of a flagrant foul.
"I got real emotional and real excited and it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow," he said afterward. "The Thunder, they're playing for a championship this year, so I really hope that he's OK. I apologize to the Thunder and to James Harden."
World Peace has been working on his reputation, even auctioning off his 2010 Lakers championship ring to benefit mental-health entities, but he is obviously a repeat offender in the league discipline office and faces his 10th suspension since 2003.
His largest suspension was 73 games for his role in the notorious Palace Brawl in 2004. More recently, he was suspended for a game for clotheslining guard Jose Barea in last season's playoffs against Dallas.
Harden did not comment Sunday after scoring 14 points, but Thunder forward Thabo Sefolosha called it a "stupid play" and Oklahoma City Coach Scott Brooks called it "dangerous" and "unacceptable."
Said Durant: "It's a bad play and hopefully [World Peace] didn't do it intentionally or have any malicious intentions on that."
The NBA handed out punishment Monday but it was a $15,000 fine to Philadelphia 76ers Coach Doug Collins for verbal abuse of a referee after the 76ers' 109-106 victory Saturday against Indiana.
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