Four tossed from Lakers-Clips game
LOS ANGELES -- The Staples Center showdown between the cohabitant Los Angeles Clippers and Los Angeles Lakers turned into a shoving match late in the fourth quarter of the Clippers' 99-92 win, resulting in four player ejections.
Lamar Odom lined up to rebound a made free throw by Randy Foye that put the Clippers up by nine with 5.7 seconds left. Odom felt like he was shoved in the back by Blake Griffin, causing him to grab Griffin's jersey and push him backwards. Ron Artest and Baron Davis came to the defense of their respective teammates. After an official's review, all four players were given a technical foul and ejected from the game.
"I don't know how [the referees] made their decisions," head coach Phil Jackson said of the incident. "Whimsically, I think."
Odom said the outcome of the game was already decided when Griffin collided with him.
"Maybe I overreacted, but I just felt like if you're up nine with the free throw going through, to ram me in the back at that point?" Odom said. "Any other time I'd [say] you play hard, strong, [or] whatever. But to ram me in the back up nine? I just don't get it. I'm going to have to react ... I'm not telling you you've got to stop playing hard, but to ram [people] in the back?"
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When asked if Artest's actions warranted an ejected, Odom said, "I don't think anyone should have been ejected."
Griffin said he was playing the same way he always plays.
"To me it was just a routine free throw box out," said Griffin. "Sometimes it gets chippy down towards the end of the game. There's never a situation when I'm not going to go to the glass. I think of all people [Odom] would know that. We were going against each other a lot and I was always on the glass. I would expect the same thing from anybody else. I don't care if we're up. If the ball comes off, I get the rebound and it seals the game."
Davis said he was just trying to protect Griffin, a leading rookie of the year candidate who is averaging 22.0 points and 12.7 rebounds in his first season in the league.
"It was unnecessary," Davis said. "People always take cheap shots at Blake. They've been doing it all year, and it's just not fair. The game was over. Let's move on and get the game over. Just lollygagging. Just playing around."
Jackson suggested part of the reason for the Clippers' 50-45 advantage in rebounding came from Griffin going over the Lakers' players backs to collect his 15 rebounds.
"He was running up guys' backs and guys get eventually tired of it, him piling on top of them," Jackson said.
The coach also took exception to Artest being ejected after it appeared the Lakers forward was playing peace maker, trying to separate Odom from the mix of players under the basket.
"I could see Lamar and Griffin [being ejected], but Ron, that was ridiculous, what happened to Ron," Jackson said.
Last week after the Lakers win over the New York Knicks in a game when Artest was called for both a technical and a flagrant foul, Kobe Bryant suggested Artest received different treatment from the officials than the rest of his teammates.
"Look at Ron, he is tough," Bryant said at the time. "It's just a fine line with him because he understands how they officiate him, so it's tough for him to be physical. A play that Steve Blake makes, if it's a physical play and Ron Artest makes [the same play], he might get ejected or suspended. So, he walks a very fine line.
"That's one of the strengths of Ron's game to be able to do things like that and hopefully the league allows him to do stuff like that."
Jackson was asked if there was a bias to the way Artest is officiated.
"No doubt about it," Jackson said.
Said Artest: "The refs have got a hard job. I'm not a ref so [I can't say.] My job is hard. I guess your job is pretty hard. It's not as easy as some people might think it is. They think they can do it, but at the end of the day they can't do it. So the refs have a hard job. So I'm [not going to criticize]."
Lead official James Capers referred a reporter's question about the incident to the NBA's vice president and director of officials Bernie Fryer or senior vice president of referee operations Ronald Johnson at the league office.
"All Ts are reviewed by the league office," said league spokesman Tim Frank in an e-mail when reached for comment.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Follow him on Twitter. Ramona Shelburne, Brian Kamenetzky and Pedro Moura of ESPNLosAngeles.com contributed to his report.