Lakers prep for playoffs in meeting with Kings
(Sports Network) - The Los Angeles Lakers are seeded third in the Western Conference and looking to finish up their regular season on a positive note when they visit the Kings in what could be that franchise's final game in Sacramento.
The Lakers are coming off a huge 114-106 double-overtime win versus the second-seeded Thunder on Sunday. Kobe Bryant scored 26 points and LA overcame a double-digit fourth-quarter deficit to down Oklahoma City.
Bryant, who is dueling with Kevin Durant for the NBA's scoring title, had six points in the second overtime while Pau Gasol finished with 20 points and 14 boards and Jordan Hill scored 14.
Metta World Peace had 12 points before being ejected in the second quarter for violently elbowing Thunder guard James Harden, who suffered a concussion, in the side of the head.
"This win is huge for us," said Los Angeles guard Steve Blake, who scored 13 points. "It's nice to get a win against one of the better teams."
The NBA suspended World Peace seven games without pay on Tuesday. His punishment came with a statement from NBA commissioner David Stern, who said Harden's concussion "demonstrates the danger posed by violent acts of this kind, particularly when they are directed at the head area."
"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," said Stern.
The suspension will begin with the Lakers' regular-season finale tonight and continue into the playoffs where LA will face either Denver or Dallas in the Western Conference quarterfinals. It would carry into next season if the Lakers are eliminated before Game 6 in the first round.
World Peace, of course, is no stranger to suspensions. The former Ron Artest once served an 86-game ban for his role in the infamous brawl between Indiana and Detroit at The Palace of Auburn Hills in November 2004. He was playing for the Pacers that night when he went into the stands to attack a fan after he was struck by a beverage while players scrapped on the court.
Lakers general manager Mitch Kupchak said in a statement that World Peace "has for the most part been a model citizen both on and off the court since joining the Lakers" prior to the 2009-10 season.
"Still," Kupchak said, "his most recent lapse in judgement is not to be condoned or accepted. His actions could have seriously injured another player, and his absence during this suspension will hurt our team as well. While we accept the league's decision, we will be supportive of Metta and try to help him be more professional on the court."
World Peace, who was whistled for a flagrant foul type 2 and ejected from Sunday's game, said afterward that the elbow was unintentional.
"I got real emotional," he said. "It was unfortunate that James got hit. I hope he's OK."
Things weren't all bad for the for the Lakers, however. Later Tuesday the team clinched its 23rd division title without taking the court. The team wrapped up the Pacific Division and the No. 3 seed in the West after the Clippers lost to the Hawks in Atlanta.
The Kings, meanwhile, saw a tentative deal made earlier this year for a new arena in Sac-Town fall apart recently, renewing fears that the franchise will relocate to Anaheim.
On the floor, Sacramento lost for the third time in four tries on Tuesday, falling 118-110 in Oklahoma City.
DeMarcus Cousins netted 32 points and grabbed seven rebounds, while Jason Thompson added 22 points and six boards and Travis Outlaw donated 20 points in the loss for the Kings, who have spent 27 seasons in Sacramento.
The team is still scheduled to play at Power Balance Pavilion next season but Anaheim's City Council has already paved the way for the franchise to relocate and could push to get the team in the offseason.
The Lakers have won 10 of their last 12 against Sacramento, and are 9-2 in the previous 11 matchups in California's capital.
04/26 10:49:52 ET