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World Peace pays for past sins

NEW YORK -- David Stern said Wednesday the elbow that Metta World Peace used to give James Harden a concussion was "recklessly thrown" and the Los Angeles Lakers forward's history absolutely weighed into the suspension.

The NBA commissioner suspended World Peace for seven games Tuesday, a penalty that could force him out of the entire first round of the playoffs, for the elbow he delivered to Harden's head in a game against Oklahoma City on Sunday.

Stern said during a conference call that he took many things into account, including World Peace's numerous past troubles. World Peace, who changed his name from Ron Artest, received an 86-game suspension in 2004 -- the longest ban for an on-court incident in NBA history -- for jumping into the stands at the Palace of Auburn Hills in the Detroit suburbs to fight fans.

"In fact if it had been somebody that got tangled up and threw an errant elbow, would that have been different than this? You bet it would have been," Stern said.

"It's really very serious stuff and it does take in account the fact that the perpetrator is who he is and has the record that he has, and this called for in our view a very stiff penalty and we think that seven games, which only includes one regular-season game, is such a stiff penalty."

Stern also was clear that he didn't buy World Peace's explanation that he accidentally struck Harden, who has not been able to return while awaiting clearance after concussion testing.

"I believe that it was recklessly thrown and I believe that in looking at the replays again and again that he should have known that James was up against him," Stern said.


Around the rim

*Atlanta All-Star center Al Horford, who has missed most of the season recovering from surgery to repair a torn left pectoral muscle, will miss the first-round playoff series against Boston.

*Charlotte Bobcats owner Michael Jordan is sick of watching his top executives be bashed as "yes" men. Jordan, in an interview with The Charlotte Observer, responded to criticism from former Bobcats coach Larry Brown, who said Wednesday on Dan Patrick's nationally syndicated radio show that Jordan's top advisers "don't have a clue" and made Brown "sick."

"It's absolutely wrong that I don't want guys to challenge me. And the people who say that aren't in the room," Jordan told the Observer.

*Carlos Boozer had 16 points and seven rebounds as Chicago edged host Indiana, 92-87.

The Knicks will either play No. 2 Miami or top-seeded Chicago in the first round of the playoffs. All New York needs to do to finish as the seventh seed is win tonight in Charlotte. A loss and Philadelphia win means the Knicks will be the No. 8 seed.

Denver beat Oklahoma City, 106-101 as OKC's Kevin Durant scored 32 points to extend his lead in the NBA scoring race. Lakers' Kobe Bryant needs 38 in tonight's finale against Sacramento to claim his third scoring title and prevent Durant from winning his third.

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