Less than two weeks after undergoing the first knee surgery of his career, Metta World Peace will be back on the floor with the playoffs on the line when the Lakers take on the Hornets at Staples Center Tuesday evening.
“Metta’s playing," Lakers coach Mike D’Antoni announced at Tuesday’s morning shootaround. “He won’t start, but he’ll play.”
D’Antoni said that World Peace would help the Lakers in terms of reducing minutes for some key players—namely Kobe Bryant.
“He’ll give us some good minutes in the sense of we’ll be able to rest Kobe and rest some other guys,” the Lakers coach said on Tuesday morning.
D’Antoni appeared not entirely certain on World Peace’s level of involvement, but he threw out “20 minutes” to set expectations.
“I think coming off the bench a couple games and then we’ll get him back to regular,” D’Antoni continued.
Similar to the approach the D’Antoni took with Gasol, the Lakers coach is not wavering on his need to get World Peace back into the starting lineup. Both Gasol and World Peace were asked to come off the bench earlier in the season when health was not an issue, but the coach is resolute in his desire to have both Gasol and World Peace starting at this point in the season and in the postseason--if the Lakers get there.
With only five games remaining, the Lakers need help from other teams to make the playoffs. The goal inside the locker room is to win the last five games, and World Peace’s return may go a long way to aiding that cause. Still, the coach was not entirely blind to the miracle recovery of World Peace.
“You always worry about someone coming back and not knowing what that incurs, but we got to get him back, looking forward to it. I’m sure he’s ready to roll.”
When asked about his thoughts on the recovery, D’Antoni said his initial reaction was to “chuckle.”
“That’s not normal,” D’Antoni said about World Peace’s recovery. “I don’t think you can explain it. He’s done it before in his career. He’s either a quick healer or pain does not bother him.”