Metta World Peace is not going to be on the court with the Lakers until Game 7 of the first round or somewhere in the second round (if the Lakers advance that far), but he is still practicing with the team.
After the Lakers Wednesday practice, World Peace spoke with reporters for the first time since his seven game suspension was announced. A number David Stern personally took credit/blame for (depending on how you view it).
Here is what World Peace said, via the Lakers.com. He started out sounding remorseful but he said he did not speak with Harden.
“It was, ooh.., it was a brutal elbow. When I seen it, arrgh”
“I didn’t lose it. It was bad timing for me. Physically it was bad time for Mr. Harden.”
“The way I’m feeling right now, back to that elite level … A lot of guys that were able to guard me early they can’t guard me. My game’s feeling great. Just the worst timing for me right now. But I’m happy James is OK.”
I think Stern’s description was apt — this was reckless but not premeditated intentional. That in no way absolves World Peace from blame or say he doesn’t deserve punishment, it’s just that he is a guy who doesn’t have the filters, that doesn’t think about the consequences of his actions the way most people his age do. It was a reaction.
World Peace was averaging 15.9 points per game on nearly 50 percent shooting the 10 games before his suspension (he had 12 points in the first half against the Thunder before being tossed). The Lakers will try to replace him with Matt Barnes, who is battling an ankle injury, but it will not be the same.
The Lakers and Thunder would meet in the second round of the playoffs, if both advance that far.
Apparently, all it takes is a little public discussion of LeBron James‘ “broken” jump shot to get him back on balance and knocking down the three ball — he was 4-of-6 from deep Wednesday.
Then again J.R. Smith was 7-of-13, Kyrie Irving 4-of-5, and as a team the Cavaliers knocked down a record 25 threes — while shooting 55.6 percent — as they wiped the floor with the Hawks in Game 2.
In case you’re curious where the Cavs were hitting from, here’s the team’s shot chart.
The Houston Rockets aren’t in any rush to hire a new head coach, preferring to interview a wide range of candidates to find the right one. Jeff Van Gundy has been widely believed to be at the top of their list, now that Tom Thibodeau and Scott Brooks are off the market, but ESPN.com’s Marc Stein is reporting another name that has entered the mix: Mike D’Antoni, who last held a head coaching job from 2012 to 2014 with the Lakers and currently serves as the Sixers’ lead assistant.
The Pacers, meanwhile, haven’t made a final decision on Frank Vogel’s future with the team, but all signs seem to point to him getting let go in the next few days. And if that happens, Stein reports that Vogel will also be on Houston’s list of candidates.
Given the Rockets’ massive drop-off on the defensive end this season, Vogel would seem to be a better fit than D’Antoni. But it sounds like the Rockets aren’t close to finding a replacement for J.B. Bickerstaff, although it would make sense to have a new coach in place by next month’s draft.
On Monday, the Hawks played the Cavaliers close and even led in the fourth quarter, leading plenty of optimism that Game 2 would be equally competitive, that the Hawks had something to build on.
The Cavs dominated from the start on Wednesday, with a 123-98 final score that was far closer than the game actually was — the Cavs led 74-36 at the half and led by as much as 38 at one point in the second half.
The Cavs also hit 25 three-pointers, which is the all-time record for a single game — regular season or playoffs. J.R. Smith hit seven of them, along with four each from LeBron James and Kyrie Irving and three for Kevin Love.
18 of Cleveland’s threes came in the first half, also a playoff record, and this was all Atlanta could do:
That’s the kind of night it was for the Hawks, who now trail 2-0 in the series as it heads back to Atlanta.
LeBron James has always been an incredible passer. In the midst of the Cavs’ Game 2 beatdown of the Hawks, he zipped this one-handed beauty into the paint to Kyrie Irving, who kicked it out to Kevin Love for a corner three:
The three was just one of the 18 Cleveland hit in the first half, which set an NBA playoff record.