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May 28, 2009 10:15 AM

Did Lakers Spend $50,000 for Game 5 Win?

After Game 4, which Denver won, the Lakers and coach Phil Jackson were fined $50,000 for openly complaining about the officiating. The game wasn't close after the 3rd quarter, and the Nuggets went on to win by 19 points. But LA was whistled for 31 fouls, compared to Denver's 24, and the Nuggets had 14 more free throws as a result, hence the complaints from Jackson.

Now fast-forward to last night's Game 5, when Denver was called for 30 fouls, compared to LA's 22, as the Lakers took five more trips to the charity stripe than did their counterpart. Was this Jackson's plan all along? Just ask him.

"I'm a gardener. I like planting seeds ... constantly."

This isn't to say the game was fixed -- the Nuggets shot just 39% -- but the Lakers' shenanigans are not sitting well with the Denver players.

"The Lakers paid $50,000 to win that game. They got their money's worth," said a Denver player, not wanting to be identified for fear of retribution from the league [...]

"I thought they got the benefit of the whistle," Denver coach George Karl said of the Lakers, suggesting the defense played by Los Angeles that held the Nuggets to 38.6 percent shooting from the floor was an illusion enhanced by how the refs influenced the game.

While not wanting to get in a war of words with the great and powerful Zen Master of Los Angeles or be docked pay for complaining, Karl did say, "Every player in my locker room is frustrated, from guards to big guys."

Nene fouled out in fewer than 26 minutes on the court, and Karl insisted at least three of the Denver center's six fouls did not exist.

If that's not questioning the integrity of the game, I don't know what is.

I do not understand how the NBA continues to operate this way. Fans, coaches and even players often accuse the NBA of shady officiating and making favorable calls to ensure the league gets the match-ups it wants (in this case, Cleveland-Los Angeles, of course), but yet everyone seems to just accept that's how the game is played, and moves on. Why? Shouldn't there be more of an outcry?

Maybe Chauncey Billups said it best last night: "Where amazing happens."

Kiszla: 50 grand buys a playoff win - Denver Post

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