The Los Angeles Lakers and the Oklahoma City Thunder hooked up on Sunday for a Western Conference showdown. The Lakers came away with the victory in double overtime, due in large part to Kobe Bryant’s late-game clutch shooting. This, however, was not the biggest story that came from this game. The bigger story from this game took place in the second quarter when Metta World Peace threw an elbow that connected with the Thunder’s James Harden.
This wasn’t just any elbow, it was one that would send Harden to the ground, and eventually concuss him. He has worked ever so hard to change his ways since his days as Ron Artest, but that was not the case in this game. World Peace was nothing of the sort this afternoon, and it will likely cost him.
The first question that came to everybody’s mind after this incident occurred was not if, but how many games World Peace would be suspended for. He will definitely be hearing from league officials in the coming days, and it won’t be a good conversation for him.
My guess is that he will be suspended for 3-5 games. This will carry over into the post season, and that could potentially cost the Lakers. The reason I don’t think it will be an outrageous number of games is because he didn’t see Harden before throwing the elbow. Granted, what he did was intentional, I do not believe it was meant to hurt Harden. He was simply celebrating after a big dunk, felt Harden bump into him, and then delivered the shot heard round the basketball world. Also, right after the classless elbow, Artest (yes, I’m calling him Artest in this instance, because that is who he was) was ready to brawl when Serge Ibaka walked towards him. That could get him a couple more games added to his suspension. Another key thing in this whole ordeal will be how many games Harden misses. If it is a significant amount of games, you could see the suspension increase.
As bad as this incident was, the crowd at the Staples Center was treated to quite the basketball game. Everyone in attendance, including Jack Nicholson who was celebrating his 75th birthday, saw a game that went into double overtime.
The Thunder led by as many as 18 points in the third quarter, even without Harden. The Lakers seemed destined to suffer yet another defeat, but that would not be the case at the end of the ballgame. The Thunder offense would find themselves in a rut, and that is exactly what the Lakers needed to climb back into the game.
Without Harden, the Thunder would have to rely more on their two superstars in Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, something that is not a bad thing. Except for this game, where it was just not going their way. Westbrook was especially horrific on this day as he shot 3-22. Durant led the way for OKC with 35 points, but it took him 34 shots to get there.
After trailing by so much for so long of the second half, the Lakers put themselves in a position for their leader, Kobe Bryant, to make some huge, preposterous three pointers. Of those two threes, one was shooting on one foot, in a shot that sent the Staples Center into a frenzy. He was not done there, though. Bryant would hit game-tying and go-ahead shots with Thabo Sefolosha all over him. He was brilliant and magnificent as he hit all these shots.
The Lakers got great contributions from their bench, led by Jordan Hill’s 14 point and 15 rebound performance. They also got exceptional play form Devin Ebanks, who scored eight points, and drew the task of guarding Durant once World Peace was ejected from the game. Steve Blake was also a key contributor in the Lakers victory, with 13 points on 4-9 shooting performance, including 3-5 from behind the arc.
Pau Gasol scored 20 points and grabbed 14 rebounds. His paint buddy Andrew Bynum did not see much of the 4th quarter and none of the overtimes, as he was just not effective in the game.
So at the end of the day, you saw the ugly dark side of Metta World Peace, a Thunder collapse, and spectacular shooting display in the clutch moments of the game from Kobe. This could be a really fun and physical playoff series, if these teams do in fact play one another.
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About the Author
Written by Eddie McDonald
I am a junior at Clarion University. I come from a small town. I played high school basketball and baseball. I love sports and being able to write and voice my opinion on sports.