Los Angeles Lakers: Leading the Pack in Flagrant Fouls

Diana AllenCorrespondent IMarch 10, 2009

The Lakers were criticized for being soft, playing little defense, and not having enough mental toughness against the defensive-minded Boston Celtics in the 2008 NBA Finals.

The hard flagrant foul commited by Trevor Ariza last night on Portland's Rudy Fernandez made it look like the Lakers are tougher this year. Rudy was hit so hard that he had to be carried out on a stretcher. 

The Lakers are the only team to have two players with at least two flagrant fouls. Andrew Bynum has commited two flagrant fouls and also has four technical fouls. Trevor Ariza commited his second flagrant foul last night and has had three technical fouls called against him. 

The perception around the league is that Boston, San Antonio, Utah, and Detroit are the tough-nosed teams, the teams that will knock their opponents around.  

Out of those four, Boston has had three players commit flagrant fouls, with only "Big Baby" Davis committing more than one. Detroit has had only two players commit one flagrant foul each (Richard Hamilton, and Amir Johnson.)

The teams that are historically known for being physical each only have one player who has committed a flagrant foul.

For the Utah Jazz, it is the seldom-used center, Jarron Collins and for the San Antonio Spurs it's the newly-acquired Drew Gooden. 

Is it out of frustration that the Lakers are committing dirty, hard flagrant fouls? Or are they trying to show that they are a tough defensive team that doesn't know how to play defense?