LOS ANGELES – Metta World Peace, the Los Angeles forward formerly known as Ron Artest, was tossed from the Lakers’ game against Oklahoma City Sunday for an elbow to the head of Thunder forward James Harden.
World Peace – who legally changed his name in September – had just jammed in a dunk that pulled the Lakers within one point with less than two minutes left in the first half when the incident occurred.
He beat his chest with his fist in celebration of the dunk and turned to head for the other end of the court.
He swung his left elbow and connected with the head of Harden, who fell to the floor.
Harden eventually rose and departed for the locker room. And officials had to separate players from both teams and assessed World Peace a level-2 flagrant foul after watching a video replay.
The flagrant foul assessment could carry a suspension, but all such fouls are reviewed by NBA league officials to confirm the punishment is deserved.
His loss would be a blow for the playoff-bound Lakers. After a sluggish start to the season, he has averaged 14 points, four rebounds and three assists in April.
The Lakers, who lead cross-town rivals the Clippers in a race for third place in the Western Conference, went on to erase an 18-point second-half deficit to beat the Thunder 114-106 in double overtime.
Lakers superstar Kobe Bryant had six of his 26 points in the second overtime.
Kevin Durant led Oklahoma City with 35 points, but the Thunder failed to gain any ground on San Antonio for top spot in the Western Conference.
Despite his choice of name, “Peace” hasn’t always been a hallmark of the former Artest’s career.
In 2004, he received one of the longest NBA bans in history for his role in a brawl with fans in which he raced into the stands in Detroit.