Metta World Peace, the Los Angeles Lakers’ petulant forward, has a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee, an injury that will sideline him indefinitely as his team fights to make the playoffs. And so it goes for the Lakers.
World Peace returned to Los Angeles to be examined by team doctor Steve Lombardo.
“Sorry bout the injury,” World Peace tweeted. “First ever knee injury. Recovery time hopefully is a week and a half.”
He deleted the tweet later. In a another 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.”
World Peace had been the only member of the Lakers’ season-opening starting lineup yet to miss a game because of injury this season. He 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.
World Peace left Monday’s 109-103 loss to the Golden State Warriors with a strained left knee and did not play after halftime. When asked by reporters after the game, he could not remember the specific play that caused the injury but said it occurred late in the second quarter.
“He said that the back of his knee was bothering him and I told him, ‘Well, if it’s bothering you, you just can’t go out,’ ” Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni said. “He’s just really hurting, so that’s why we held him (out), but I don’t know what that means.”
D’Antoni said World Peace told him he felt fluid in the back of his knee and it is an issue he has played with before.
The 14-year veteran had been enjoying a renaissance season, as his points, rebounds and steals per game averages, as well as his field goal percentage, 3-point percentage and free throw percentage were all up from last year.
With World Peace out indefinitely, the Lakers likely will turn to Earl Clark to return to the starting lineup. Clark had started 33 games for L.A. before playing just 17 minutes total in the Lakers’ past two games against Golden State and Washington, getting bumped to the bench because Pau Gasol was back in the lineup.
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.