The Lakers' shaky defense will be without Metta World Peace for at least six weeks, which could be the rest of the season.

World Peace is set to undergo surgery to repair a torn lateral meniscus in his left knee Thursday. The timetable for a return means World Peace could only play again if the Lakers' win a playoff series, if even then.

He has assumed the responsibility for guarding the opposition's top scoring threat most nights, a burden that often will now fall to Kobe Bryant. It could help Bryant refocus his attention on defense, where his play has fallen off, but it only adds to Bryant's heavy load of responsibilities every night.

Lakers coach Mike D'Antoni said he could take solace in not having to send double-team defensive help on whomever World Peace was guarding, whether in the post or on the perimeter.

"He's played as hard as anybody all year," D'Antoni said.
Bryant said the Lakers will miss "a ferocious player" who brought "a certain physicality" to the Lakers. Dwight Howard said he was "real sad" about World Peace, whom he referred to as his "favorite guy in the world."