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Tuesday, April 24, 2012

World Peace elbow mars Lakers victory


LOS ANGELES — Metta World Peace was subdued and contrite in the Los Angeles Lakers' locker room, apologizing to Oklahoma City's James Harden for throwing the elbow that sent them both to the locker room in the second quarter.

News photo
In enemy territory: Lakers forward Pau Gasol pulls down a rebound between Thunder center Kendrick Perkins (left) and guard Russell Westbrook on Sunday in Los Angeles. The Lakers won 114-106 in double overtime. AP

They both missed a beauty of a game that could echo into the postseason for two division leaders.

Kobe Bryant scored six of his 26 points in the second overtime alongside an unorthodox Lakers lineup, and Los Angeles rallied from an 18-point deficit in the second half for a 114-106 victory over the Thunder on Sunday.

Pau Gasol had 20 points, 14 rebounds and nine assists for the Lakers, who made an impressive comeback in their regular-season home finale against off-target Thunder stars Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook, who combined to miss 42 of their 56 shots. Los Angeles' rally stunned the Thunder and set an early tone for their possible second-round playoff matchup.

"It's not so much that we beat Oklahoma, but how we did it," said Bryant, who shook off his own woeful shooting game with two key 3-pointers late in regulation. "In the playoffs, particularly if you don't have home-court advantage, you're going to have games like this. We have to have the poise and the confidence to just keep chipping away."

Yet everything after halftime was colored by the drama and violence that occurred 1:37 before the break.

World Peace had just dunked over Durant and Serge Ibaka on a fast break and was headed back upcourt when he ran into Harden. While pounding his chest with his right arm, World Peace raised his left elbow over Harden's shoulder and cleanly hit Harden in the back of the skull.

Harden dropped to the court and stayed down for about a minute before heading to the locker room. Ibaka and other Thunder players challenged World Peace, but were kept apart, and World Peace was ejected after officials reviewed the tape.

"I got real emotional and excited, and it was unfortunate that James had to get hit with the unintentional elbow," said World Peace, who had scored 12 points and played solid defense on Durant. "I hope he's OK. Oklahoma, they're playing for a championship this year. I apologize to the Thunder and James Harden. It was just unfortunate."

Knicks 113, Hawks 112

In Atlanta, Carmelo Anthony scored 39 points, and New York outlasted the Hawks in a game between two playoff-bound teams still battling for postseason seeding.

Kings 114, Bobcats 88

In Charlotte, DeMarcus Cousins had 29 points and 10 rebounds, and Sacramento handed the Bobcats their 20th straight loss.

Heat 97, Rockets 88

In Miami, LeBron James had 32 points and eight rebounds, Norris Cole added 16 points and the Heat pulled away in the final minutes to eliminate Houston from postseason contention.

Pistons 76, Raptors 73

In Auburn Hills, Michigan, reserve Ben Gordon scored 19 points, including the go-ahead basket, to help Detroit beat Toronto.

Warriors 93, Timberwolves 88

In Minneapolis, Charles Jenkins had 24 points and nine assists while playing all 48 minutes to rally Golden State from a 21-point deficit.

Spurs 114, Cavaliers 98

In San Antonio, Manu Ginobili scored 20 points to lead the Spurs to their seventh straight victory.

Nuggets 101, Magic 74

In Denver, JaVale McGee scored 17 points, throwing down a half-dozen dunks in the second half, and the Nuggets pulled away to beat Orlando.

Clippers 107, Hornets 98

In Los Angeles, Chris Paul had 33 points and 13 assists, Randy Foye hit three of his six 3-pointers in the fourth quarter, and the Clippers moved within a half-game of the Lakers for the Pacific Division lead and the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference.

Foye scored 24 points, and Blake Griffin had 21 points and 15 rebounds in the victory.

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