Rivers complains about officiating
BOSTON -- Doc Rivers spent quite a bit of time Wednesday discussing the state of the officiating in the NBA Finals after sending a videotape to the league office documenting what he said were several uncalled offensive fouls against the Los Angeles Lakers. It may have been an off day Wednesday in the L.A.-Boston series, but Rivers was very much on his game when it came to working the refs.
"I think it was a ton of moving screens they got away with," Rivers said the day after the Celtics' 91-84 loss to the Lakers in Game 3 put the Celtics behind 2-1 in the best-of-se series. "As far as off-the-ball action ... you are not allowed to hold, you are not allowed to bump, and you are not allowed to impede progress. I read that this morning, and I'm positive of it. So, you know, when that happens it has to be called."
Rivers said he had sent a tape to the league office documenting several instances in which the Lakers were not called for moving screen violations, a type of offensive foul. By his count, the Celtics were called for one such violation and the Lakers none.
Rivers also commented on the general state of officiating in the NBA and how it differs from when he was a player. Although it did not appear as though he had said anything egregious enough to merit a fine from the league office, commissioner David Stern will have the final say on that matter -- and Stern has shown less tolerance than in past years for coaches working the refs in between games.
Rivers also continued to sound incredulous that Lakers coach Phil Jackson had complained about the foul calls against Kobe Bryant in Game 2 (Jackson called them "unusual fouls") when Bryant racked up five personals, noting that foul trouble had impacted his own team much more than it had the Lakers.
"I think he [Phil Jackson] is good, I think we're all pretty good at it," Rivers said. "But listen, if Phil Jackson says something the day before and it happens, I hope that has nothing to do with the officials."
In Game 3, Paul Pierce was limited to 34 minutes because of foul trouble. In Game 2 it was Kevin Garnett who spent more than half the game watching from the bench because of fouls, and in Game 1 Ray Allen was the recipient of at least two questionable foul calls that limited him to 27 minutes.
"It's huge," Rivers said. "We've had all three games where one of our quote-unquote Big Three has not been able to play.
"Last night, Paul was never in his rhythm. He couldn't be. He played for four minutes, he was back on the bench, played for five minutes. I mean, I played Paul at times last night when I should not have had him on the floor with four fouls, but I had no choice. You've got to get him on the floor at some point.
"But it clearly -- you know, we watched film today, and I showed Paul, it's funny. I said 'Paul, that's a driving lane. You've got to get to the basket.' His response was: 'I was worried about getting another foul.' It's tough to play that way." Through three games, the Celtics have been whistled for 84 personal fouls to the Lakers' 75. Pierce and Kevin Garnett have been whistled for 13 fouls apiece, while Lamar Odom of the Lakers leads all players with 14 personals. Odom has played an average of just 21 minutes per game after averaging nearly 30 minutes over the first three rounds of the postseason.
The Lakers have attempted 96 free throws in the three games to Boston's 86, and there has generally been an inordinate amount of conversation over the past six days regarding the quality of the refereeing.
"When I played, it was just two officials, so that was awhile ago," Rivers said. "And I also thought back then it was more they just called the game, what they saw. Now, it's much more technical and in some ways better, and in some ways not, because officials won't call something that's not in their area, if you know what I mean, even if they see it at times.
"But it's tough. I think the game is more athletic, the game is faster, and it's brutal. We're hard on them, everybody is hard on them. But it's a difficult game to call," Rivers said. "I think what we all want is just consistency. It's tough to get that, but I think that's what everybody wants."
Chris Sheridan covers the NBA for ESPN.com.
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