Why Phil Jackson Has No Reason To Cry Foul over Refereeing in Game Four

Bryan FlynnAnalyst IMay 26, 2009

DENVER - MAY 25:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers looks over at referee Ken Mauer in the second half before he was given a technical foul against the Denver Nuggets in Game Four of the Western Conference Finals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Pepsi Center on May 25, 2009 in Denver, Colorado. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Doug Pensinger/Getty Images)

I cannot believe Lakers coach coach Phil Jackson would complain about the foul differences after Game Four of the Western Conference Finals with the Nuggets last night.

The Nuggets have gotten to the line in this series more than the Lakers in every game but Game Three; that much is true. In Game One, the Nuggets attempted 35 free throws. In that same game, the Lakers only attempted 24. Moving on to Game Two, the Nuggets attempted 37 free throws to the Lakers' 35, the closest game in free throw attempts in this series.

In Game Three, the Lakers finally got an edge in free throws when they attempted 45 to the Nuggets' 31 attempts. In Game Four, the roles reversed, with the Nuggets getting 49 attempts to the Lakers 35.

I know Jackson is trying to get calls for his players, but from the outset of Game Four the Nuggets were the team driving the ball and working harder to rebound the ball. The Lakers attempted 31 three-point shots. That is not the kind of thing that is going to get you to the foul line.

All shooting from the outside does is give long rebounds or one-and-done offense if you do not make the shot. This is what happened to the Lakers most of the night. Especially since they got outrebounded by 18 in the game and the Nuggets took 11 of those offensive boards for second-chance points.

If you, and I mean Jackson, think that Luke Walton is his father Bill and will get calls to go his way, then you have been drinking too much of your own Kool-Aid. Walton got a technical foul for not shutting up after a play and going after Kenyon Martin. He should have walked away, and maybe the officials would have given him a call later in the game.

If you’re a jump-shooting team and the only players you have going to the basket are Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol, you’re not going to get many fouls called. On the other hand, the Nuggets have Nene, Martin, Chauncey Billups, J.R. Smith, Chris Anderson, and Carmelo Anthony all moving toward the basket. That's how you get more calls: Playing in the paint rather than on the perimeter.

The second thing Jackson brought up was dirty play by the Nuggets in the game. I cannot say that Dahntay Jones meant to trip Kobe Bryant. I do know that I have see Bryant push other players to the ground to grab rebounds and hold on to other players so they cannot get to rebounds. Neither type of offense was called on Bryant.

Officials do not like to call plays when they have to figure out intent. If it was clear that Jones had tried to trip Bryant, they would have called the foul. Looking at it myself, I could not tell if that is what he meant to do. Jones clearly looks down at his foot as Kobe falls, wondering why he fell.

He did not stretch his leg out any farther than he did or he would have fell since he was out of position already to try to guard Bryant. Jones might have been trying to trip Bryant, but why would he do that and possibly be ejected from the game?

Jackson is just trying to get calls for his team, and I understand that. He just has to understand he has a soft team and they will not get many calls in this series unless they play tougher inside the paint. You cannot camp out at the three-point line and hope to get calls. The Nuggets will keep getting calls because they keep going to the basket.

Jackson does have a right to complain about the foul situation, but only if he looks at the way his team has played first. Then he will see that the only complaining he should be doing is to his team on how soft they are in the paint.

Mainly, he needs to look at Andrew Bynum and Trevor Ariza, who are constantly in foul trouble and have committed almost 30 fouls in this series (14 for Bynum and 15 for Ariza). Not good for your big men inside.