Denver Nuggets head coach George Karl directs his team against the Los Angeles… (David Zalubowski / Associated…)
DENVER — As if George Karl needed another reason to loathe the Lakers.
The self-avowed Lakers hater watched video of Metta World Peace smacking Denver Nuggets forward Kenneth Faried in the mouth Monday and came away with a fairly straightforward review: two thumbs down.
"I saw it on film and I thought it was — whatever the word is — premeditated," Karl, the veteran Nuggets coach, said Friday about a play toward the end of the third quarter in which no foul was called.
The NBA seemed to agree, retroactively assessing World Peace a flagrant-2 foul Thursday. If the league needed more evidence, it could always check with Faried.
"I still have a scar in my mouth," Faried said. "When I eat, it still burns."
Faried appeared surprised when informed that World Peace told reporters Thursday he didn't want to complain about "guys coming up my back and smashing me."
"Uh, I got hit with an elbow in the mouth," Faried said dryly. "I guess I was too aggressive going for the rebound at the end of the quarter and I got what was coming to me, people would say. I don't know."
World Peace has five flagrant-foul points, meaning one more flagrant infraction would trigger a suspension.
More in reserve
Maybe it's just what one of the least productive benches in the NBA needed: fewer options.
It's all on you, Antawn Jamison, Jodie Meeks and Steve Blake.
They have been the only Lakers reserves to play in three of the last four games, with a handful of others finally taking the court Thursday in the final minutes of a blowout victory over the Minnesota Timberwolves.
"I've settled down with these guys and given them roles to play," Lakers Coach Mike D'Antoni said of his bench. "Before, we were trying to find who could do it and who couldn't."
D'Antoni has discovered something worthwhile in the trio who helped the Lakers reserves outscore their Timberwolves counterparts, 52-34.
Meeks supplied four of the Lakers' 16 three-pointers in addition to quietly effective defense.
Blake was an all-around contributor with 13 points, seven rebounds and six assists, including an alley-oop pass to Dwight Howard for a dunk in the fourth quarter.
Jamison continued to scurry around the interior, finding openings in the defense for layups on the way to 17 points.
"He's like a little cockroach, man," Lakers guard Kobe Bryant said. "He just keeps finding the cracks."
D'Antoni said he would probably stick with his abridged bench rotation until forward Pau Gasol returns from the torn plantar fascia in his right foot that has sidelined him since early February. Gasol is expected back in three to four weeks.