- Dave McMenamin, ESPN Staff Writer
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EL SEGUNDO, Calif. -- There are two games remaining on Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace's seven-game suspension for his elbow that connected with Oklahoma City's James Harden, but coach Mike Brown called extending the series to get World Peace back for the next round "a joke."
The Lakers need just one more win to defeat the Denver Nuggets in their first-round playoff series and could close things out Tuesday in Game 5, but if the Lakers lose and beat the Nuggets in Games 6 or 7, World Peace would be available from the start of their Western Conference semifinals series against Oklahoma City.
By winning Game 5, World Peace would serve the final game of his suspension in the series opener against the Thunder, but the team would also earn itself a few days of rest as the series against the Thunder would not likely begin until Saturday or Sunday.
Would the Lakers actually be better off losing Game 5 and extending the series against Denver so that World Peace would be in the lineup to defend Kevin Durant from the jump in the Thunder series?
"Two guys told me that (Monday), they said that the Twitter world is suggesting that we do that," Brown said after shootaround on Tuesday. "That we lose (Game 5) so that we can extend the series to get Metta World Peace back. I'm not even going to answer that. To me, that's a joke. When they said that to me, I just laughed.
"No, if we can win the game, we're going to try to win the game. There's never been a time that I ever thought partially about losing a game for this to happen or that to happen. So, if Metta comes back in 10 games or if he comes back in one game, I'm not worried about that. I'm worried about tonight and who can play tonight and get the win tonight, period. Nothing else. But the Twitter world is worried about all that other stuff."
Intentionally tanking a game and heading back to Denver for a Game 6 would be a risky proposition. The Lakers are up 3-1 in the series, but have only outscored the Nuggets by eight total points (383 to 375) through those four games. Furthermore, the Lakers are just 2-2 at the Pepsi Center so far this season, splitting two games in the regular season as well as taking one out of two games on the road against the Nuggets in the postseason.
On the flip side, Brown was asked if he was placing any extra emphasis on Tuesday's Game 5 to close out the series as quickly as possible because the Thunder will be plenty rested heading into the Western Conference semifinals after sweeping the Dallas Mavericks over the weekend.
"I always think it's important to get rest, but again, I go back to, I don't care when we play, how we play, who we play, let's lace them up and play," Brown said. "So, yes, it is important to get rest if we can, but for me to say, 'Hey, let's go win this game so we can get rest,' I wouldn't do that. Let's go win this game because that's what we're supposed to do."
4dSteve Ilardi and Jeremias Engelmann