EL SEGUNDO, Calif. – Lakers forward Metta World Peace was suspended seven games by the NBA on Tuesday for throwing a vicious elbow at Oklahoma Citys James Harden, meaning the Los Angeles starter likely will miss six playoff games.
World Peace was ejected from Sundays game against the Thunder for striking Harden in the head, giving him a concussion. World Peace claimed the contact was an accidental, overzealous celebration of a dunk.
World Peace will miss the Lakers season finale on Thursday at Sacramento and the next six games for which he is eligible. The playoffs open Saturday, and Los Angeles is likely to be the Western Conferences third seed.
Commissioner David Stern alluded to the former Ron Artests history of on-court altercations in announcing the penalty in a statement.
The concussion suffered by James Harden demonstrates the danger posed by violent acts of this kind, particularly when they are directed at the head area, Stern said. We remain committed to taking necessary measures to protect the safety of NBA players, including the imposition of appropriate penalties for players with a history of on-court altercations.
The suspension is Artests third career ban of at least seven games.
HAWKS 109, CLIPPERS 102: In Atlanta, Joe Johnson scored 28 points, including a wild three-pointer in the final minute, and Atlanta held on to move a step closer to wrapping up homecourt in the first round of the playoffs.
Blake Griffin scored a season-high 36 points, while Chris Paul added 34 for the Clippers.
THUNDER 118, KINGS 110: In
Oklahoma City, Kevin Durant scored 32 points, reserve Daequan Cook had all 19 of his points in the fourth quarter and Oklahoma City won its first game since James Harden was injured in Sundays loss to the Lakers.
CELTICS 78, HEAT 66: In Boston, Sasha Pavlovic scored 12 of his season-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, leading a group of Boston reserves in a win over Miami as both teams rested their top players.
LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh were out of the lineup for the Heat. Ray Allen, Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo didnt play for the Celtics.