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Wednesday, March 27, 2013
Metta World Peace awaits tests

By Dave McMenamin

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Los Angeles Lakers are still waiting for Metta World Peace to be evaluated by a team doctor in L.A. to determine how long he will be out with a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, but coach Mike D'Antoni is not optimistic the small forward will be back before the end of the regular season.

"I say I'm not optimistic only because there's only a couple weeks and if it's bad enough to go get it checked, we'll see what happens when he goes and gets it checked, but it will be tough," D'Antoni said after the Lakers shootaround in Minnesota on Wednesday in advance of his team's game against the Timberwolves.

"Sorry bout the injury," World Peace tweeted on Tuesday after hurting his knee late in the first half of L.A.'s 109-103 loss to Golden State on Monday. "First ever knee injury. Recovery time hopefully is a week and a half."

He deleted the tweet later.

In a separate tweet, World Peace wrote: "I can't wait to get back. But our team is so good We will win and get into the playoffs."

D'Antoni said that Jodie Meeks would move into the starting lineup in World Peace's absence, with Kobe Bryant taking over small forward duties on the defensive end.

World Peace had been the only member of the Lakers' season-opening starting lineup yet to miss a game because of injury this season. World Peace has played in 70 of L.A.'s 71 games (sitting one due to suspension) and averaged 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.7 steals per game.

"It's been a trying year for a lot of reasons and not just injuries, which everybody has to go through," D'Antoni said. "We just can't seem to get any traction. But besides that, nobody is feeling sorry for us and we've got plenty [of talent remaining] to win anyway, so let's just do what we're supposed to do and go out and play as hard as we can and see what happens."

The Lakers (36-35) have a one-game lead over Dallas and Utah for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference with 11 games remaining. They have won 21 straight games against Minnesota.

"I was hurt because Metta, he's been strong all year," said Dwight Howard about the latest blow to the team's roster. "He hasn't really had that many problems and then he gets hit with a serious injury. It just seems like all year when somebody comes out [off the injured list], somebody does down. So it's kind of tough, and to see Metta go down, it kind of hurt."

Should World Peace be ruled out for the rest of the regular season and the playoffs, he could very well have played his last game as a Laker. World Peace, who turns 34 in November, has a player option for $7.7 million next year in what would be his 15th season. The Lakers still have the amnesty provision available to them should World Peace opt into the contract, a stipulation from the latest NBA collective bargaining agreement that allows a team to waive a player signed before the start of the 2011-12 season and take his salary off their cap. World Peace could also explore free agency.

In World Peace's first year as a Laker in 2009-10, L.A. won a second consecutive NBA championship, with World Peace (then known as Ron Artest) putting up 20 points, five rebounds and five steals in Game 7 of the Finals against Boston.