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Metta World Peace weathers Thunder fans' wrath

Oklahoma City followers voice displeasure with the Lakers forward who elbowed the Thunder's James Harden in April. That action led to a seven-game suspension for World Peace.

May 14, 2012|By Ben Bolch

OKLAHOMA CITY — The boos cascaded upon him when he walked onto the court for warmups.

They intensified when he was introduced before the game.

And they continued even when he stepped to the free-throw line with the outcome long decided.

"World Peace, we hate you!" a woman sitting courtside bellowed midway through the third quarter.

Oklahoma City Thunder fans reserved a special welcome for Metta World Peace on Monday night at Chesapeake Energy Arena in the opener of the team's Western Conference semifinal series against the Lakers.

It was the first meeting between the teams since World Peace elbowed James Harden in the side of the head on April 22, earning a seven-game suspension and the hatred of Thunder fans.

This time, World Peace and the Lakers didn't put up much of a fight.

The small forward had 12 points, two rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes during the Lakers' 119-90 defeat, departing for good with 10 minutes 9 seconds left in the fourth quarter.

World Peace also left the court shortly thereafter. He said he had to use the bathroom, the Lakers having long since given up any chance at a victory.

Since the Lakers showed a replay of the teams' last meeting in their locker room before the game, as is customary, World Peace's elbow to the head was shown several times on a large-screen television.

World Peace ignored the screen as he walked into the room, going directly to a back area.

The same player who was so pugnacious a little more than three weeks ago turned evasive when he met with reporters after the game.

Was he now fine with Harden or did he still think his Thunder counterpart flopped, as he had previously stated?

"Right now is about basketball," World Peace said. "I think after the season, if the fans want to talk to me, tweet me or email me at or go to my podcast, 'The Ron and Metta Show,' after the season we can talk about that."

What about his loose-ball foul early in the fourth quarter on Harden?

"I can't remember," World Peace said.

Did the booing bother him?

"There's a lot of great-looking women in the stands booing," World Peace said, prompting a female Thunder employee recording the interview to roll her eyes. "I'm like 'Wow, you are beautiful.'"

The defeat was hideous for the Lakers with the exception of an opening-game spurt. World Peace briefly quieted the crowd by hitting two early three-pointers as the Lakers took a 12-6 lead.

But then Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant started making shots, the Lakers had no answer, and that was that. World Peace was hardly a Durant stopper, the lanky forward scoring 25 points on eight-for-16 shooting.

"It wasn't like it was all [isolations]," World Peace said. "On isos, I did OK. He might have scored a couple of times on iso, but his teammates set a screen for him. So I take all that into consideration. That's why I don't get discouraged."

Harden also had a big game, his every move cheered by the fans. He finished with 17 points, mostly on the strength of nine free throws.

The Lakers presumably could use some changes in Game 2 on Wednesday, though World Peace wouldn't promise any besides a slight tweak in appearance.

"You're going to see the same person," he said. "I'm going to weigh the same. Probably a haircut. I might get a haircut because it could possibly grow back in a day or two."

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