Metta World Peace has meniscus tear in knee, out for a while

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The Lakers perimeter defense is a mess this season — Steve Nash, Steve Blake, and Jodie Meeks are not good defenders. Kobe Bryant can be but is prone to gambling. The result is Dwight Howard left trying to clean up too many messes.

Metta World Peace is the one guy the Lakers count on to alter that dynamic, plus he is really the only true small forward worth anything on the roster.

But the Lakers are going to have to be without him for a while.

World Peace tweaked his knee in the first half against Golden State (and sat out the second half). He had an MRI Tuesday and the news for the Lakers is not good, reports Dave McMenamin at ESPNLosAngeles.com.

The Los Angeles Lakers’ snake-bit season continued Tuesday with Metta World Peace receiving an MRI in Minneapolis on his left knee that showed a lateral meniscus tear.

World Peace will return to Los Angeles where he will be examined Wednesday by team doctor Steve Lombardo, forcing him to miss that night’s game against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

There is no timetable for his return yet. World Peace tweeted he hopes it will be a week and a half, but players tend to be optimistic about these things. People around the team expect it to be longer.

Look for Earl Clark to be back in the Lakers starting lineup until World Peace can play again. Coach Mike D’Antoni likely also will play around with a smaller lineup of Nash, Meeks and Kobe moving over to the three.

It comes at a bad time for a Lakers team that has lost three in a row and is just one game ahead of Utah for the final playoff spot in the West and 1.5 ahead of Dallas (heading into Tuesday night). The Lakers need wins and World Peace had been a reliable three-point shooter and defender for them in a season when little else has been dependable. The Lakers will miss him.

Heat snap Celtics’ 16-game winning streak

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The Celtics didn’t have another comeback in them.

After overcoming a 13-point fourth-quarter deficit against the Mavericks on Monday to extend its winning streak to 16 games, Boston lost to the Heat tonight, 104-98. The streak ends as the NBA’s longest since the Hawks won 19 straight during the 2014-15 season.

The Celtics trailed Miami by 16 in the fourth quarter then cut the deficit to only one with three minutes left. But Dion Waiters hit back-to-back 3-pointers, helping the Heat pull away.

Goran Dragic (27 points) and Waiters (26 points) led Miami, which needed a reason to feel good after losing three of four to fall to 7-9.

The Celtics, on the other hand, still have a four-game cushion over the rest of the Eastern Conference. This might help them regain focus.

Serge Ibaka gets dunked on by Enes Kanter, hit in face by ball (video)

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Is Enes Kanter mad Serge Ibaka rifted with his family?

(No, not this family. That family.)

LeBron James blows wide-open dunk (video)

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J.R. Smith (slightly out of context): “We don’t start paying attention until after All-Star break.”

Report: Raptors’ Delon Wright out a month

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Raptors guard Delon Wright dislocated his shoulder, but at least he won’t need surgery.

Raptors media relations:

Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN:

The Raptors (11-5), off to a surprisingly strong start, are second in the Eastern Conference. They’ve bought themselves margin for error. All in all, a month-long absence for Wright isn’t so bad.

Wright had been a key part of an excellent all-bench unit that included Fred VanVleet, O.G. Anunoby, C.J. Miles and Jakob Poeltl. Two-way player Lorenzo Brown has assumed Wright’s role, and Norman Powell – returning from his own injury – will provide a boost. Toronto can also stagger Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan more.

The chemistry of the bench mob was something to behold, but the Raptors should withstand this.