“We decided as a group to hold him out one more game and give him 24 more hours,” coach Scott Brooks said of Harden. “He should be fine in our recovery practice (Thursday) as a team and our practice Friday.”
Harden was officially listed as day-to-day by the Oklahoma City medical staff after Los Angeles Lakers forward Metta World Peace elbowed him in the head. World Peace celebrated like a mad man after he converted a dunk with 1:39 left in the second quarter of the Lakers overtime victory over the Thunder on Sunday. After pounding his chest with his right fist, he elbowed a nearby Harden in the back of the head. Harden fell to the ground instantly and remained there for several minutes before being taken to the locker room.
The NBA handed down a seven-game suspension which means World Peace will miss a majority of the Lakers first playoff round. He is lucky to get away with that considering the damage he could have done. Harden is the heavy favorite to win the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year Award and is essential to the success of the Thunder in the postseason. World Peace’s elbow could have single-handedly decided the fate of Oklahoma City.
“I’m just worried about his health and want to see him back on the floor with us because he means so much to us,” said Kevin Durant. “He means so much to the city. It’s just tough not to see him right next to me in the locker room.”
Durant and Harden are great teammates on the court and even better friends off it. Durant felt a little responsible for the injury taking place considering he was the one defending World Peace when he dunked the ball.
“Maybe if I would have stopped Ron Artest from dunking that ball, he wouldn’t have did it. So I kind of felt a little bit of me when he did it,” Durant said.
Durant and Oklahoma City could get another shot at World Peace if they can find a way to meet each other in the Western Conference Finals. The Thunder is the West’s second seed while the Lakers are the third.
I have Oklahoma City and Los Angeles matching up in the West Finals in my early NBA predications and I definitely have no intentions of changing it. I felt this would be an exciting matchup before the elbow incident, but now it seems like the roof will blow off if these two teams meet.