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Thursday, April 26, 2012

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Catch me if you can: Boston's Paul Pierce drives as Miami's Shane Battier (31) defends during the Celtics' 78-66 win on Tuesday. AP

World Peace gets seven-game suspension for vicious elbow

AP

EL SEGUNDO, California — Lakers forward Metta World Peace was suspended for seven games by the NBA on Tuesday for a vicious elbow on Oklahoma City's James Harden, meaning the Los Angeles starter likely will miss six playoff games.

World Peace was ejected from Sunday's 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.

Yet even Kobe Bryant and his Lakers teammates weren't defending his inexplicable actions.

"It's hard to get into a guy's head and know exactly what happened in that situation," Bryant said. "I haven't really spoken to him about it. You've really got to ask him."

World Peace, who was known as Ron Artest before he legally changed his name last year, will miss the Lakers' season finale on Thursday at Sacramento and the Lakers' next six games. The playoffs open Saturday, and Los Angeles is likely to be the Western Conference's third seed — and Oklahoma City is locked into the No. 2 seed, meaning the clubs could meet right after World Peace's suspension ends in the second round.

He will lose nearly $348,000 in salary if he serves the entire suspension this year. If the Lakers exit the playoffs swiftly, the remainder of the suspension must be served next season.

World Peace still hasn't answered media questions about his actions, but he issued a brief statement on his website, promising to follow up with a podcast.

"I apologize to the Oklahoma City Thunder fans and the OKC organization," World Peace wrote on ronartest.com. "I look foward (sic) to getting back on the floor with my teammates and competing for the Lakers fans."

Commissioner David Stern alluded to Artest's lengthy history of on-court altercations and strange behavior in announcing the penalty in a statement. Although Harden appears to be recovering well, he hasn't been cleared to return to the Thunder.

"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 in a statement. "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."

Hawks hold off Clippers

AP

ATLANTA — Joe Johnson scored 28 points, including a wild 3-pointer in the final minute, and the Atlanta Hawks held on for a 109-102 victory over the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday night, moving a step closer to wrapping up home-court in the first round of the playoffs.

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 the Thunder won their first game since top reserve James Harden took an elbow to the head.

Celtics 78, Heat 66

In Boston, Sasha Pavlovic scored 12 of his of his season-high 16 points in the fourth quarter, leading a group of Celtics reserves as both teams rested their top players.

Hornets 83, Warriors 81

In Oakland, California, Golden State's Chris Wright was called for goaltending on Marco Belinelli's layup with 1.5 seconds remaining, giving New Orleans the win.

Jazz 100, Suns 88

In Salt Lake City, Paul Millsap scored 26 points and Al Jefferson went on a personal 8-0 fourth-quarter run as Utah clinched a Western Conference playoff spot.



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