Jackson: Referees turned against us
LOS ANGELES -- With 59.0 seconds remaining in the second quarter of the Lakers' 100-81 loss to the Spurs on Sunday, Los Angeles forward Ron Artest and San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili were called for a double-technical foul after getting tangled up while the ball was waiting to be inbounded.
On the Spurs' ensuing possession, just a second of game clock later, Artest was called for a personal foul and Kobe Bryant was then whistled for a technical foul for approaching the official during the dead ball.
All of the calls were made by 25-year NBA veteran referee Bennett Salvatore and left Lakers coach Phil Jackson in a foul mood after the game.
"Tonight they wouldn't let Ron play the way he played prior to [the technical foul call]," Jackson said. "[Ginobili] could hook Ron; [Artest] didn't get what was going on and ended up getting too many fouls on him."
Artest finished the game with two personal fouls, plus the technical. San Antonio was leading 40-37 at the time of the double-technical call and finished the half on an 8-0 run in the final minute.
"The way we ended up the half I think turned the referees against us and when you do that, that's an unfortunate thing," Jackson said. "Ron didn't back off and didn't read that official well enough to know, you got to back off, you got to lighten the load, he's not going to take any more of that. Ginobili forced the issue and got the calls."
Bryant's technical was his 13th of the season. If he is whistled for three more technicals, for a total of 16, in the Lakers final five games, he will be suspended by the league for one game. The slate is wiped clean for the postseason, when amassing seven technical fouls results in a one-game ban.
"You never know with a referee," Jackson said. "You go over and talk to him, he may not have wanted anybody to talk to him at that point. It didn't look like Kobe berated him at all, but you guys probably had a better television view than I had at that end of the court."
Bryant's technical carries a $2,000 fine by the league for each "T" amassed more than 11 in a season.
"It didn't look like he was berating him or anything," Jackson said. "But, with Bennett you don't know what you're going to get."
Jackson also had criticism for Artest for how he responded to the situation.
"On both the replays that we looked at, Ginobili hooks him," Jackson said. "He does the up-and-under move with the hook. Obviously the referees just didn't want the contact at that time. I told Ron at halftime, 'You got to back off when it's time to back off.' You just can't keep being persistent about that because they sent you a warning signal, and that signal was, 'Back off.' We ended up giving them some momentum at the half and probably got the referees on the back end of our game."
Artest had little to say about the incident after the game.
"I don't even remember," Artest said. "It was just basketball. I can't remember what happened."
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.