Time to repeal the rule?
NBA Commissioner David Stern instructed referees to crack down on animated player behavior, but the Lakers certainly weren’t thrilled about it after Lamar Odom was hit with a technical foul in the final minute of the Lakers’ 121-116 loss Sunday to Phoenix.
“It’s a bad, bad rule,” Kobe Bryant said. “It’s a bad one. It’s subject to so much interpretation. I’ve been toeing the line here, so I don’t want to [get fined]. It’s something you have to be conscious of as a player, which kind of throws you off your game a little bit because basketball’s such an emotional sport.”
Odom made a layup off Bryant’s pass with 53.7 seconds left to bring the Lakers within 111-109. He was then called for a technical foul after yelling out for a foul call after Hedo Turkoglu appeared to get him across the arm. Steve Nash made a free throw to give the Suns a 112-109 edge.
Odom said he was fouled on purpose by Turkoglu, who added a three-pointer to put the Suns up six.
“It’s hard to control normal reactions, right?” Odom said.
Lakers Coach Phil Jackson said the technical foul “changed the context of the ballgame.”
“He got fouled,” Jackson said, repeating it for emphasis. “It’s a normal reaction. There’s no doubt that we don’t want guys complaining about plays up and down the court, but when someone’s at the rim and gets fouled, and says, ‘and one’ or whatever, to stop a game or change a game around at a critical point in the game like that, it’s just not the way that we want to be able to play.
“It’ll even out. People will have better judgment.”
How strange was Sunday’s game?
Sasha Vujacic (remember him?) got a standing ovation from Lakers fans. And he scored only three points against Phoenix.
All but forgotten as the fifth guard in Jackson’s four-guard rotation, Vujacic was pressed into duty because Steve Blake stayed home with intestinal flu.
Vujacic had only three points, but fans seemed to like his hustle in his 12 minutes, cheering him when he was replaced for good by Bryant with 8:27 to play.
“Sasha picked up a role, got out there and did some things,” Jackson said.
Vujacic, 26, is in the last year of a contract paying him $5.5 million this season and could become an asset as an expiring contract when the February trade deadline comes closer.
Hit the road
The Lakers have played seven of 10 games at home, but the schedule begins to even out this week with a trip to Milwaukee, Detroit and Minnesota. Despite a combined record of 12-19, Jackson tried to trump up the Lakers’ opponents.
“Everybody in the NBA is going to be pretty potent on their home court this time of the year,” he said. “They still haven’t worn off the luster of, ‘This is a new season, we’ve got a chance, everybody’s going to make it to the playoffs.’”
Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.