After throwing the elbow heard around the world on Sunday and 48 hours of suspense, the league finally suspended Los Angeles Lakers’ small forward Metta World Peace for seven games for elbowing James Harden.
The suspension will include Thursday’s regular-season finale at Sacramento and also six playoff games. It also could be a big break for the Denver Nuggets, who hold the 6th seed in the Western Conference and are currently projected to face the Lakers in the first round of the playoffs.
World Peace hasn’t played well against the Nuggets this season, averaging only 7.8 points and shooting .333 from the field. His backup Matt Barnes on other hand has given the Nuggets fits. Barnes scored a season-best 24 points against Denver earlier this month, but he is also battling a sprained right ankle and will miss the Lakers’ season finale. Devin Ebanks is also expected to see time at small forward for the Lakers.
Danilo Gallinari has struggled against the Lakers this season, averaging only 10 points and is shooting .283 from the field against the Lakers. Hopefully if the Nuggets do face Los Angeles, Gallinari can take advantage of Artest’s absence and Barnes injuries.
If anything Artest’s absence shrinks Los Angeles bench.