Metta World Peace or the player formerly known as Ron Artest actually went back to his Artest days, branding a great game of basketball between the Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder with a disgusting and impossible to understand elbow to the head of James Harden, which took Harden out of the game and got MWP ejected to an ignorant stadngin ovation.
Lakers fans didn’t see (or ignored their eyes) the replay that clearly showed Artest celebrating his dunk by pounding one hand on his chest, while the other shoots and elbow straight to the side of Harden’s head, for no understandable reason. The referees immediatly called a flagrant two on World Peace, leaving the game.
With the playoffs just around the corner, the big talk won’t be about the Lakers finally beating the Thunder, 114-106. It’ll be about how long will Metta World Peace be suspended for; likely for at least the entire postseason. James Harden condition is also unclear, and his injury may have a bigger toll than just this loss to the Lakers at the Staples Center, putting them further away from the top spot in the Western Conference.
The Lakers win was a great one, even surprising in the way it was achieved after two overtimes. No Kobe Bryant domination, no Andrew Bynum. Instead – Six players in double figures, with Bryant leading the way, scoring 26 points on a terrible shooting night (9-26). Pau Gasol added 20 along with 14 rebounds while Bynum struggled against Ibaka and Perkins, who focused mostly on stopping him.
For the Thunder, it was only Kevin Durant, finishing with 35 points, but not taking the final shot as everyone expected before heading into overtime. Russell Westbrook was at his worst, making only 3 field goals out of 22 attempts, ending up with 14 points and 10 assists.
And while the Lakers did lose Artest, who was having a good night with 12 in 17 minutes until shocking everyone with his assault on Harden, the Thunder were forced the sustain the bigger loss, losing their number 3 scorer and a much more important player, on both ends of the floor, than what the Lakers had to give up. It might have cost them the game, and their chance for home court advantage. We will wait and see what will be the repercussions, and the effect on the postseason for both teams.