DENVER – A day later, the NBA blew the whistle on Dahntay Jones for tripping Kobe Bryant.
The league assessed Denver’s defensive specialist a flagrant-1 foul for sending the Lakers’ star sprawling through the lane with a trip late in the third quarter that Bennett Salvatore’s officiating crew missed.
Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson complained about Jones’ “unacceptable defense, tripping guys and playing unsportsmanlike basketball” during a rant about the officiating after Los Angeles fell 120-101 to Denver to tie the Western Conference finals at 2.
Asked if he felt Jones went out of his way to trip Bryant, Jackson replied: “Yes. It’s not the first time it’s happened in this series.”
Bryant kept things light when asked if Jones tried to trip him.
“I just fell on my face for no reason,” he said. “I’m a klutz.”
Was Jones playing him dirty?
“Good defense,” Bryant said.
Bryant had beaten Jones cutting to the basket when Jones stuck out his right foot.
Jones called it an accident, an instinctive move that lacked any malice or even forethought.
“It wasn’t intentional,” Jones said.
Nuggets coach George Karl said the league is toeing a thin line, however, by imposing a foul that wasn’t whistled in the game.
“I don’t think the precedent is good,” Karl said. “I think the mood of the game is being overridden by the mood of the office.”