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SACRAMENTO(CBS/AP) — The Los Angeles Lakers are ready to take the court again after the NBA’s ruling on Metta World Peace.
The Sacramento Kings could be taking the court in California’s capital city for the final time.
World Peace will begin his seven-game suspension when the Lakers visit the Kings in what could be the final NBA game at Power Balance Pavilion on Thursday night.
Banned for elbowing Oklahoma City forward James Harden in the head during the Lakers’ 116-108 double-overtime win Sunday, World Peace’s absence leaves Los Angeles (41-24) thin at small forward. Matt Barnes won’t travel to Sacramento due to a sprained right ankle, leaving Devin Ebanks – out earlier with a stress fracture in his left leg – as coach Mike Brown’s best option.
“Metta has to abide by what the league says,” Brown said. “Matt has to get healthy and then same with Devin. Otherwise we gotta fit guys how we can and go play the game. Nobody’s going to feel sorry for us right now so we gotta figure out how to go get wins.”
Los Angeles clinched the Pacific Division and No. 3 seed in the Western Conference when the Clippers lost at Atlanta on Tuesday. Thursday’s other games will determine the Lakers’ first-round opponent.
With no chance to affect their playoff position, Mike Brown will not play Kobe Bryant in the final game of the regular season according to SI.com.
The Thunder Kevin Durant star scored 32 points in a loss to Denver on Wednesday, leaving Bryant in need of 38 on to claim his third scoring title and prevent Durant from becoming the seventh player to win three in a row.
Durant is averaging 28.0 points, Bryant 27.9.
“I don’t care about that,” Bryant said. “If I did, I would have went for 50 (last week) in San Antonio. They were playing me straight-up in single coverage.”
This is the second straight season the Lakers are visiting Sacramento for their regular-season finale. Once again, the Kings’ future in the city is up in the air.
Near the end of last season, Anaheim’s City Council issued the bonds needed to entice the franchise and new federal trademark rights were requested. The Kings’ owners, the Maloof brothers, opted to give Sacramento another chance to retain the franchise.
An agreement was reached with the city on an arena deal, but that has fallen apart. The Kings (21-44) are scheduled to play at Power Balance Pavilion next season, although the situation remains in flux with Anaheim’s mayor once again expressing interest in the team.
The Kings have spent 27 seasons in Sacramento, and Bryant spoiled last season’s finale in the Lakers’ 116-108 overtime victory. He scored 36 points and sent the game into the extra period with a tying 3-pointer with 4.8 seconds to go.
Bryant has averaged 33.5 points to help the Lakers split two meetings with the Kings in 2011-12.
Sacramento has dropped 10 of 12. Top scorer Marcus Thornton has missed three straight games with a left quad contusion.