Just 12 days after having surgery to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee, Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace is expected to return to the starting lineup Tuesday night when the Lakers take on the New Orleans Hornets.
World Peace, who was supposed to be sidelined for at least six weeks, participated in a three-on-three scrimmage at practice Monday and appeared to be healthy.
“We’ve got a chance to make a push for this championship,” World Peace told reporters after practice. “We all need it. All the guys under contract, injured or not injured, we need each other to make a run at this thing.”
With just five games left to secure the final playoff spot, the Lakers (40-37) trail the Utah Jazz (41-37) for the eighth postseason spot in the Western Conference. Every game is important for the Lakers to win as the Jazz hold the tie breaker.
“He’s good,” Lakers coach Mike D’ Antoni said. “It’s probably a game time decision, but he looks good. He’s raring to go. The medical staff will make a decision tomorrow. It’s unbelievable. He’s different. … I’ve never seen this before.”
World Peace began his rehabilitation last week, running and shooting with the team Saturday and before Sunday’s game against the Los Angeles Clippers. He said he was ready to play last Tuesday against the Dallas Mavericks, but he was not cleared by team doctors.
World Peace injured his knee in the first half of the Lakers’ 109-103 loss to the Golden State Warriors on March 25. This is the first ever knee injury for the Lakers defensive stopper, who tweeted that his recovery time would take a week and half.
“Right after the surgery, they were amazed how the swelling didn’t even exist off of meniscus surgery,” World Peace said. “You can play, but the swelling is what keeps you from playing, so when I didn’t have any swelling that’s why I was pushing to play. I wanted to play three games ago. It was good teamwork with doctors and training staff.”
With the return of World Peace to the Lakers lineup, the team will still be without point guard Steve Nash. Nash will miss his fourth consecutive game because of a hip injury, but is expected to return to the lineup on Friday when the Lakers play the Warriors.