Tyreke Evans, Metta World Peace

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.

Aaron Gordon both legs over the mascot, ball-under-the-legs dunk (VIDEO)

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TORONTO — Zach LaVine won the NBA All-Star Saturday Dunk Contest, but in an epic night for my money this was the single best dunk.

Orlando’s Aaron Gordon broke ground with this one — guys have jumped over mascots and other players before (and a Kia hood), but by splitting their legs apart. Gordon just put both legs over Stuff (that’s the mascot’s name, Stuff the Magic Dragon, I don’t make this up) — and took the ball off the mascot’s head, went under his legs, and threw it down.

Insane.

Gordon deserved a trophy for his performance in this dunk contest.

Zach LaVine edges Aaron Gordon in epic, insane Dunk Contest

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TORONTO — That. Was. Amazing.

In a dunk contest that will go down with the all-time greats — Jordan vs. Dominique, Dr. J from the free throw line — Minnesota’s Zach LaVine defended his dunk contest title. Barely. Because Orlando’s Aaron Gordon was doing dunks nobody had ever seen before.

And LaVine was bringing it just as hard.

The two men advanced to the finals — dismissing Will Barton and Andre Drummond, each of whom had good dunks — and that was when it got wild.

There were four second-round dunks, and four perfect scores of 50. (That was in spite of Shaq, who wanted to give nines for second attempts.)

“I was prepared for four (second round dunks),” LaVine said. “To tell the truth, he came with something that no one else has done. He did two dunks that were just crazy with the mascots, jumping over them. We just kept pushing each other until the last dunk. I’ve got to give it up to my boy Will “The Thrill” Barton. It’s because of him I think I won. Because he said try to go from the free-throw line. I’d never done that before, and I just tried it. So I guess it was a great dunk. I think it was the best one ever.”

The Air Canada Centre crowd was exploding with every dunk. The two men went to a dunk-off — and got two more 50s.

“If I knew it was going to be like that, I would have prepared better and we would have been here dunking all night, going back 50 after 50 after 50 after 50,” Gordon said. “We would have been here all night. I didn’t know it was going to be like that. I was just hoping Zach was going to miss, and it wasn’t going to happen. You could see as my facial expressions when Zach dunks it, it’s like okay, that’s a 50. Like I know we’re going to have to dunk again.”

So they went to a second-round of overtime, where LaVine put up another 50 and won the contest.

Gordon was close to perfect.

Zach LaVine can flat-out fly.

Magic’s Aaron Gordon with the over-the-mascot mad dunk

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TORONTO — Aaron Gordon was giving Zach LaVine all he could handle in the Dunk Contest.

He blew the lid off the Air Canada Centre with this dunk in the first round — and it wasn’t even his best dunk of the night. Never seen this before.

This dunk contest was awesome, so much more video to come.

Zach LaVine opens Slam Dunk Contest title defense with spectacular behind-the-back slam (VIDEO)

during the BBVA Compass Rising Stars Challenge 2016 at Air Canada Centre on February 12, 2016 in Toronto, Canada. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.
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TORONTO — Zach LaVine clearly heard all the talk that Aaron Gordon or Will Barton had a chance to upset him in the Slam Dunk Contest. He came out ready to prove his superiority right off the bat. This behind-the-back slam was his first attempt of the night:

Even better was the reaction, both from Andre Drummond and from LaVine’s Minnesota teammates: