After dunking on a breakaway and thumping his chest in triumph, World Peace flung his elbow into the side of James Harden's head, sending the Thunder guard tumbling to the court with 1 minute 37 seconds left in the second quarter.
Several Oklahoma City players immediately approached World Peace and had to be separated by officials. After watching the replay on a courtside monitor, officials ruled it a flagrant-two foul on World Peace and ejected him, depriving the Lakers of an energized player who had 12 points and five rebounds in 18 first-half minutes.
World Peace, who changed his name before the season supposedly to reflect a more tranquil demeanor, received a loud ovation on his way off the floor.
The reinvigorated Thunder scored four unanswered points to end the half while Serge Ibaka made things miserable for the Lakers, blocking back-to-back shots by Andrew Bynum and Devin Ebanks.
Kobe Bryant has five points, making only two of seven shots. Harden and Kevin Durant have 14 points each for the Thunder.
Seldom-used power forward Jordan Hill gave the Lakers a spark off the bench with six points to go with four rebounds. Hill was in the game after small forward Matt Barnes sprained his right ankle. Barnes had the ankle taped but it was unknown if he could return.
Hill received a loud ovation when Pau Gasol replaced him after nine productive minutes. The loudest cheers of the quarter were reserved for Jack Nicholson after the scoreboard revealed it was his birthday.
Thunder 26, Lakers 20 (end of first quarter)
It was a ho-hum first quarter for the Lakers in what they hope will be a statement game.
Kobe Bryant made only one of five shots, indicative of a Lakers team that shot only 36.4% in the opening quarter of its showdown with the Oklahoma City Thunder at Staples Center.
Kevin Durant had eight points and James Harden added five in his first minute off the bench for the Thunder.
Metta World Peace was active early for the Lakers, battling for rebounds, going in for a couple of dunks and shaking off a Serge Ibaka elbow to the nose to make a pair of free throws. World Peace had six points and three rebounds in the quarter.
The Lakers also had their version of Lob City in working order, with Bryant taking an alley-oop pass from Pau Gasol for a dunk and Gasol later dunking off a lob from Ramon Sessions.
Oklahoma City guard Derek Fisher, the former longtime Laker, received a warm ovation when he entered with 2 minutes 54 seconds left in the quarter. Fisher then missed a long jumper over former teammate Steve Blake before scoring on a put-back during a subsequent possession.
Metta World Peace ejected from game
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