By Ben Golliver
Lakers forward Metta World Peace has torn the lateral meniscus in his left knee and will leave the team's four-game road trip to return to Los Angeles for further examination. A recovery timeline will be announced on Wednesday after he is examined.
An MRI conducted in Minnesota in advance of Wednesday's game against the Timberwolves revealed the extent of the damage one day after World Peace was forced from action during a Monday night loss to the Warriors in Oakland. The injury was initially dubbed a "knee strain."
Lakers.com reported after Monday's game that World Peace's movement was inhibited after he departed on Monday with seven points (on two-for-three shooting), one assist and two steals in 19 minutes.
In the locker room following the third straight Lakers defeat, World Peace said that the pain and discomfort had subsided, but since he “couldn’t really walk” at halftime, he stayed in the training room to see if a return was possible.
World Peace, 33, has played in all but one game for the Lakers this season, averaging 12.8 points, 5.1 rebounds, 1.5 assists and 1.7 steals in 34.6 minutes. His absence continues a revolving door of injuries for the Lakers, who recently got Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol back in the lineup after ankle and foot injuries, respectively. Forward Jordan Hill is out for the season with a hip injury and guards Steve Nash and Steve Blake have also missed extended stretches this season.
Coach Mike D'Antoni doesn't have another traditional wing stopper to turn to in World Peace's absence. His options include upping minutes for forwards Earl Clark and Antawn Jamison and/or leaning even more heavily on the likes of Jodie Meeks and Blake in three-guard lineups. Meeks started the second half in place of World Peace on Monday night. The Lakers are 36-35 and currently possess the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference, holding a one-game lead over the Jazz with 11 games to play.