Lakers, Metta World Peace wait for other shoe, or hammer, to drop

Monday was anything but manic for the Lakers, the time dripping by slowly as they awaited a ruling on Metta World Peace that never arrived from the NBA.

The Lakers forward will surely be suspended for throwing an out-of-control elbow at Oklahoma City guard James Harden, though the need for an official edict from the league's disciplinary office in New York is lessened because the Lakers don't play again until Thursday.

The Lakers didn't practice Monday and World Peace was suspiciously quiet on Twitter, but media members were ablaze with thoughts.

"Harden's status remains unknown, and really, so does Metta World Chaos'," wrote columnist Berry Tramel of the Oklahoman. "A player with a rap sheet like Chaos' will draw a hefty penalty from NBA commissioner David Stern. Some say five games, some say 10, some say more. But Stern has a problem. Whatever penalty he selects, he knows it's fully punitive. None of the penalty will be rehabilitative. Chaos has shown himself to be unchangeable."

LeBron James had to cover his face with a towel while watching World Peace's flagrant foul live Sunday on TV in the Miami locker room, trying not to laugh with reporters present while calling it one of the "craziest" things he'd ever seen.

Other players and, uh, entities weighed in as well.

Clippers players discussed the event among themselves in the locker room Sunday after beating New Orleans, trying to figure out how long World Peace's suspension would last.

A gambling website, Bovada, even put the over-under at 7½ games.

Harden was listed as day to day, according to the Thunder, which issued a statement late Monday that he participated in a series of limited activities per NBA guidelines but "has additional steps that must be taken under the league-mandated concussion policy before he can make his return to the court."

The Oklahoman is reporting that Harden probably will not play Tuesday against Sacramento or in the regular-season finale Wednesday against Denver.

Meanwhile, another Lakers small forward, Matt Barnes, went to their training facility Monday for treatment on a sprained right ankle that was called "very tender" by a team spokesman.

There will probably be updates on World Peace and Barnes on Tuesday, giving the Lakers some clarity on their immediate future . . . and whether they have any small forwards available beyond Devin Ebanks.

They complete the regular season at Sacramento before beginning the playoffs this weekend at Staples Center against an opponent to be determined.

Ebanks didn't back down while defending Kevin Durant on Sunday, and he also had two clutch steals in the second overtime, but the Lakers don't have much beyond him at the position right now — particularly if World Peace is suspended.

Kobe Bryant could shift from shooting guard and the Lakers could add backup help by recalling Christian Eyenga from the Development League. The second-year player came over from Cleveland in the Ramon Sessions trade last month but has played only for the Los Angeles D-Fenders.

The Lakers will wait to see if they even need to play with any determination on Thursday. If the Clippers lose in Atlanta on Tuesday or New York on Wednesday, third place in the Western Conference automatically goes to the Lakers, making Thursday's game moot and providing a chance for some Lakers starters to rest.

World Peace had been playing some of his best basketball in three seasons with the Lakers. He is averaging 14.2 points in April and has played solid defense. He had 12 points and three steals Sunday when he was ejected with 1:37 left in the second quarter of the Lakers' 114-106 double-overtime victory.

"Aw, man. He was dunking all over them dudes," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said after the game. "He dunked, like, on four people. It was crazy. He was playing very, very well.

"I think it's going to hurt missing him, but we're a team and we've got to pick up the slack."

World Peace had just completed a fastbreak dunk against Durant and was aggressively pounding his chest when he swung an elbow that connected with the left side of Harden's head.

As Harden was down, World Peace exacerbated the situation by taking the belligerent posture of an angry boxer when Durant and Serge Ibaka approached him near midcourt. Referees had to step between them, and World Peace was ejected because of a flagrant foul.

"I got real emotional and real excited and it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow," he said afterward. "The Thunder, they're playing for a championship this year, so I really hope that he's OK. I apologize to the Thunder and to James Harden."

World Peace has been working on his reputation, even auctioning off his 2010 Lakers championship ring to benefit mental-health entities, but he is obviously a repeat offender in the league discipline office and faces his 10th suspension since 2003.

His largest suspension was 73 games for his role in the notorious Palace Brawl in 2004. More recently, he was suspended for a game for clotheslining guard Jose Barea in last season's playoffs against Dallas.

Harden did not comment Sunday after scoring 14 points, but Thunder forward Thabo Sefolosha called it a "stupid play" and Oklahoma City Coach Scott Brooks called it "dangerous" and "unacceptable."

Said Durant: "It's a bad play and hopefully [World Peace] didn't do it intentionally or have any malicious intentions on that."

The NBA handed out punishment Monday, but it was a $15,000 fine to Philadelphia 76ers Coach Doug Collins for verbal abuse of a referee after the 76ers' 109-106 victory Saturday against Indiana.

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