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Metta World Peace suspended for punching Brandon Knight

Brandon Knight wasn't happy with Metta World Peace's sneaky uppercut during Sunday's game, calling for the league to review the play.

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Metta World Peace's punch earns suspension

Metta World Peace was suspended one game for punching Brandon Knight, the NBA announced today. From the league's official press release:

Metta World Peace of the Los Angeles Lakers has been suspended one game without pay for grabbing Brandon Knight of the Detroit Pistons around the neck and striking him in the jaw, it was announced today by Stu Jackson, NBA Executive Vice President, Basketball Operations.

The incident occurred with 1:43 remaining in the 2nd period, of the Lakers' 98-97 win over the Detroit Pistons on Sunday, Feb. 3 at The Palace of Auburn Hills.

World Peace will serve his suspension tonight when the Lakers visit the Brooklyn Nets at Barclays Center.

It's justice, I suppose, but it's still frustrating. Had the referees assessed the proper penalty at the time of the incident, World Peace would have been ejected from the game. And considering the Lakers fell apart in the second half before ultimately squeaking by with a 98-97 win, who knows how World Peace's absence might have altered things?

After the game, the artist formerly known as Ron Artest neither confirmed nor denied throwing the punch ("If he says that, he says that"), but did go out of his way to praise the undersized Knight for his physical play.

In any case, here's video of the play one more time:

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Knight: World Peace 'definitely threw a punch'

On the heels of a heartbreaking loss to the Lakers, Pistons guard Brandon Knight was still fuming about Metta World Peace's apparent punch from an altercation late in the first half. From ESPN's Dave McMenamin:

"The play needs to be reviewed because he definitely threw a punch," Knight told reporters after the game. "It felt like he threw a punch. That's why I reacted the way I did.

"The play was over and he grabbed me around the neck. If someone grabs you around the neck, you're not just going to let that happen. You do what you need to get that person off you."

If you've somehow avoided seeing the replay, watch it below. As you can see, the two get tangled up, and World Peace seems to escalate the situation by refusing to let go of Knight's neck with his right arm even after the play was whistled dead -- and then sneaking in an uppercut to Knight's face with his left hand.

It certainly wasn't a violent punch, but it looked intentional nonetheless. After the game, World Peace lavished praise on Knight for playing hard, apparently without acknowledging the punch. Again, from McMenamin:

"He's a small guy," World Peace said after finishing with eight points and nine rebounds in the win. "(Knight) was trying his hardest to keep me off him. He worked hard, man. That kid, I don't know where he's from, I don't know what school he went to, because he was guarding me and I was crashing the boards. He's a tough kid, man. He tried to keep me off the glass and he did a good job. That's all I can say. He's a tough kid, very great. He's a tough point guard or shooting guard or whatever he is."

I'm still curious whether the NBA will follow Knight's advice and review the play. Knight emerged from the scuffle no worse for wear, but that's not the point. If you consider this a "punching foul," the rule book says Artest should have been ejected, not simply tagged with a flagrant.

Update: World Peace did comment on the punch after all -- and didn't attempt to deny it. From David Mayo of MLive:

"If he says that, he says that," World Peace said of the punch accusation. "Whatever. If he says it, whatever."

Asked his version of the incident, World Peace was non-committal.

"I don't really remember," he said. "He was trying his hardest to keep me out of the paint."

I'm not sure why Mayo calls it an "accusation" -- the video speaks for itself, no? Mayo has a few more quotes from Knight about the incident -- worth your time to click through.

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World Peace punches Knight

"This building brings out the Ron Artest in Metta World Peace." -- George Blaha.

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