Lakers forward Metta World Peace delivered a blow to the side of the head of Oklahoma City guard James Harden that earned him a flagrant-two foul and an immediate ejection. A suspension of one game or more is likely.
World Peace, who had 12 points late in the second quarter following his third dunk of the game, pounded his chest alternately with both fists. Then, as Harden was moving toward the baseline, World Peace swung his left arm above his shoulder and struck Harden in the left side of his head, sending the Thunder guard crashing to the court.
The incident with 1:37 left in the first half sparked all types of reactions. As Harden was motionless on the court, World Peace stood in a boxing stance as Thunder forwards Kevin Durant and Serge Ibaka rushed toward World Peace. The fans at Staples Center and Lakers teammates seemed to think it was just an accident, something World Peace indicated with his body language to officials afterwards
Seeing it live, it appeared that World Peace's elbow was nothing but an accident. Maybe he was too giddy over his dunk to realize Harden was there. Maybe he didn't realize how far out he was swinging his arms. Maybe he didn't know his own strength. The replays appear to show otherwise. Harden bumped into him. World Peace backed into him. Then he cocked back his arm before delivering the blow.
World Peace post 12 points on four-of-10 shooting, five rebounds and three steals while holding Durant to a three-of-eight shooting clip. But the Lakers will miss that presence in the second half and likely beyond.