The San Antonio Spurs moved to within one victory of securing the Western Conference top seed for the playoffs on Sunday as the NBA's leading contenders continued to jostle for position in the final week of the regular season.
The Spurs easily defeated Cleveland 114-98, after Oklahoma City suffered a heartbreaking double overtime defeat to the Los Angeles Lakers, handing San Antonio a one-and-a-half game advantage over the Thunder in the conference.
World Peace was celebrating a dunk when he flung an elbow at Harden, knocking his opponent out of the game with a concussion and earning himself an early shower.
"It was unfortunate that James had to get hit with an unintentional elbow," World Peace told reporters, following the action that will likely see him face a suspension.
"I hope he is OK. I apologize to the Thunder and to James Harden."
The incident overshadowed a thrilling showdown that featured clutch shooting from Kobe Bryant, who had 26 points, and a game-high 35 points from Kevin Durant.
Meanwhile, Denver edged in front of Dallas for sixth in the same conference following their 101-74 blowout of Orlando.
A shorthanded Miami Heat beat Houston 97-88 behind 32 points from LeBron James. The Heat trail East-leading Chicago by two games with as many contests remaining.
(Writing by Jahmal Corner in Los Angeles; Editing by John O'Brien)