If a player had tied an NBA playoff record for blocks against my team, I would probably shed a few tears too. But in the case of Denver Nuggets coach George Karl, I'm not sure if his whining will really help his team deal with Los Angeles Lakers center Andrew Bynum.
Bynum became the first Laker to record a triple-double in the playoffs since Magic Johnson did it in the 1991 NBA Finals against the Chicago Bulls, and according to Karl, Bynum would have never even come close to tying Hakeem Olajuwon and Mark Eaton's record of 10 blocks if the officials were doing their jobs.
In Karl's hallowed opinion, it wasn't Bynum and the Lakers defense that was responsible for holding his Nuggets to 36.5 percent shooting from the field; it was the officials. Via ESPN Los Angeles:
"(Bynum) was playing nice illegal defense," Karl said in his postgame press conference after the Lakers won Game 1 of their first round series against the Nuggets 103-88 on Sunday. "He zoned up good. I think we got one illegal defense (called against the Lakers). I saw about 30."
While there may be some truth to his theory, maybe a little of the blame should have fallen on Karl as well, since it is the coach's job to make adjustments.
And really, how many shots did Bynum have to block before Karl instructed his players to try alternative methods when attacking the rim? A pump fake here or there might have been nice.
I'm sure Karl's complaints after Game 1 were just a ploy to bring more attention to Bynum's tendency to camp out in the paint, but if Bynum continues to play with the same type of intensity and focus he displayed on Sunday, then Karl's pleas had better be followed with some sound strategy.
The Lakers front line of Bynum and forward Pau Gasol is simply bigger, stronger and vastly more talented than anyone Denver can counter with. In order for the Nuggets to compete in the paint and in the series, Karl will have to add a wrinkle to his offense.
Denver's leading scorer, Ty Lawson, hit exactly one shot from the field, and his quickness—which is usually a strength—was nullified by Bynum's huge presence in the lane.
TNT broadcaster Charles Barkley predicted that the Nuggets would upset the Lakers in the first round, but maybe he forgot that Bynum was playing in the series.
The Nuggets may very well make some adjustments to garner better looks at the rim, but if Bynum keeps playing with the same type of passion, how does a team adjust to that?