The new adventures of Metta World Peace

Tomorrow’s story tonight …

Kobe Bryant pulled Metta World Peace aside in the locker room after the Lakers scrapped and clawed and snarled their way to a 96-91 comeback victory Wednesday night over the Clippers at Staples Center.

Bryant had a message for his teammate: play just like that all the time.

The edgy World Peace re-emerged Wednesday and helped to fuel the Lakers’ rally with a blend of deft passing, strong rebounding, annoying defense and one timely 3-pointer when the game was on the line in the fourth quarter.

He admitted he lost his focus last season, but is on the rebound in 2011-12.

“I got bored with defense because it was so easy to stop people over the years,” he said. “I got bored with it. When you’re playing with guys and stopping them every single time, what else are you going to do? It caught up to me, but this year I’m doing better.

“This year I’m almost back to where I want to be.”

World Peace’s tangle with Blake Griffin of the Clippers, which led to a jump ball, was a highlight-reel sensation late Wednesday and well into Thursday. Peace certainly didn’t break out as the Hallway Series reached new levels of bickering.

Bryant was pleased the Lakers didn’t back down.

“Everybody played with the right attitude, the right temperament,” he said. “Everyone did what they do best. Metta (the former Ron Artest) was himself. He wasn’t trying to be this peaceful guy. I told him he just has to be who you are and we’ll surround you and Pau (Gasol), as well, and myself. … It was good.”

Of his postgame conversation with World Peace, Bryant said:

“I talked to him after the game in the locker room and said, ‘That’s what you need.
That’s who you are. You’re a nice person. You’re a great guy. Everyone knows you’re a great guy. But when you get in between those lines, you have to be the person that you were in Indiana, the person we brought here and play with that type of attitude.’”

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