Jackson calls Nuggets guard ..unsportsmanlike’
By EDDIE PELLS, AP National Writer
May 26, 2:26 am EDT
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DENVER (AP)—Lakers coach Phil Jackson accused Nuggets guard Dahntay Jones(notes) of playing “unsportsmanlike basketball” by intentionally tripping Kobe Bryant(notes) during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Monday night.
Jackson’s rip on Jones came after Los Angeles fell 120-101 to Denver to tie the series at 2. He became the second coach to call Jones dirty during the playoffs, joining Byron Scott of the Hornets, who said the same thing in the first round.
Jackson criticized Jones at the end of a rant about what he said was inconsistent officiating that resulted in Denver taking 49 free throws—14 more than the Lakers.
“There’s another situation out there tonight that was unacceptable by Dahntay Jones,” Jackson said. “Just unacceptable defense, tripping guys and playing unsportsmanlike basketball.”
Jones stuck his right foot out while Bryant was cutting to the basket for a possible rebound late in the third quarter and Bryant went sliding across the lane. There was no call, and Bryant argued with referee Bennett Salvatore.
Asked if he felt Jones went out of his way to trip Bryant, Jackson replied: “Yes. It’s not the first time it’s happened in this series.”
Bryant kept things light when asked if Jones tried to trip him.
“I just fell on my face for no reason,” he said. “I’m a klutz.”
Was Jones playing him dirty?
“Good defense,” Bryant said.
Jones, a defensive specialist who starts for the Nuggets, has been charged with hounding Bryant at the start of the first and third quarters. In Game 2, he had five fouls by the middle of the third quarter.
He said he wasn’t bothered by Jackson calling him dirty.
“Just playing hard,” Jones said. “If he can’t respect it, I’m sorry. I’m trying to be aggressive and give it all I have out there. My teammates appreciate it.”
Especially Kenyon Martin(notes), who sometimes gets accused of crossing the line.
“Hey Tay, you made it, dog,” Martin said when told about Jackson’s comments. “You’re a dirty player now. Welcome. It’s an elite club being considered one of those.”
In the first round of the playoffs, Scott was upset with the way Jones guarded Chris Paul(notes).
“I can appreciate anybody that plays hard, but when you get to the point where you’re being a little dirty, that’s the thing that kind of aggravates me,” Scott said.
The Jones-Bryant tangle was only one of Jackson’s issues after Monday’s game.
He let the refs know he was mad by refusing to quickly insert a replacement for Luke Walton(notes) after Walton fouled out with 4:05 left. Refs hit the Lakers with a delay-of-game warning, then Jackson brought in Shannon Brown(notes).
The coach was upset with a sequence during which Walton got a technical after arguing a no-call against Nene, who appeared to have elbowed Walton as he was cutting across the middle. Walton picked up four personal fouls over the next 4:25.
“The referee gave him a technical then subsequently gave him three consecutive fouls out on the floor,” Jackson said. “That kind of disparity we don’t like in ballgames. That’s not equal refereeing and those are the things that change the course of games.”
Nuggets coach George Karl complained about the whistle after Game 3, a 103-97 Lakers win. The Lakers shot 14 more free throws in that game.
The teams have combined for 160 free throws in the two games at the Pepsi Center—80 apiece.