Kobe Bryant foul now flagrant 1

Updated: April 28, 2011, 8:19 PM ET
By Dave McMenamin | ESPNLosAngeles.com

NEW ORLEANS -- Los Angeles Lakers guard Kobe Bryant's foul on New Orleans Hornets center Emeka Okafor with 3:14 remaining in the fourth quarter of Los Angeles' 106-90 Game 5 win has been upgraded to a flagrant 1, according to a Lakers team spokesman.

Hornets coach Monty Williams was unhappy with the level of physicality in Game 5 that gave L.A. a 3-2 series lead, saying, "A lot of it, it's just not basketball."

He thought Lakers guardShannon Brown could have also faced some discipline for using his elbows against Willie Green and Jarrett Jack.

"I know it's going to be a physical game, but I thought they swung at us a few times last game," Williams said. "I thought Shannon should've been ejected, and if he's not going to be ejected, he shouldn't be able to play tonight. When you throw your elbow like that at a guy, I know the rule is you have to connect, but if he connects, that's a fight. It could turn into more stuff. So I expect a physical game, but I expect a fair game. That's how we play."

Bryant did not participate in the team's shootaround on Thursday morning, sitting off to the sidelines wearing sunglasses while icing his sprained left ankle.

"There's limitations to what he can do, obviously, but he tries to overcome," said Lakers coach Phil Jackson. "He's still a guy that's working on not 100 percent."

Bryant is expected to play in Game 6 on Thursday night, however.

"I think he can play 40 minutes tonight if he has to," Jackson said.

The Lakers were 4-0 in close-out games during the postseason last year, including 3-0 on the road. If they beat the Hornets on Thursday, they would have three days' rest before opening up the second round at home on Monday against the winner of the Dallas-Portland series.

"The key is not about the rest as much as you don't want to play any more games than you have to," Jackson said. "These games are full of physical contact and there's many things that can happen to take teams out of their rhythm, take players out of the game. It's a big challenge not to play a whole lot of games."

Jackson expected the physical nature of Game 5 to extend to Game 6.

"Tonight is going to be a tussle so we have to be prepared," Jackson said. "I don't know whether it's going to be a tussle that's going to come out in the second period or it's going to come out in the fourth."

Williams said he thinks the league should take a more active role in looking at physical play.

"There's no way you can throw your elbow at a guy in a basketball game and get away with that without a review," Williams said. "We review 3-point shots, we review all this other stuff, yet a guy can rear off? Before the second quarter was over, [Brown] swings at Jarrett Jack and fakes like he was blocking a shot. To me, those incidents turn into more stuff. Enough is enough. We teach our guys to play the game the right way. It's the playoffs, and we need to play through it, but I also feel like there needs to be a little more legislation."

After Thursday's shootaround at the New Orleans Arena, Williams told his players they just have to overcome what he considered unbalanced officiating.

"I was like, 'Look we're not getting the calls. We've got to overcome more than we normally would,'" Williams said. "I can complain about referees all day, but it's not going to change the score if we're focused on that. We've got to focus on the Lakers."

And the Lakers are focused on closing out.

Said Lamar Odom: "We feel good about our chances."

Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com.ESPNLosAngeles.com's Arash Markazi contributed to this report.

Dave McMenamin

ESPNLosAngeles.com