The Los Angeles Lakers coach Phil Jackson was unrepentant about being fined $25,000 (Dh91,800) by the NBA for his criticism of the referees in the Western Conference finals. "I didn't think very good of it at all," he said on Wednesday as the Lakers put on a fiery fourth-quarter display to grind out a 103-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets, the win earning the top seeds a 3-2 lead in their series.
"I thought I was very conciliatory, tried to soft-pedal my comments, but that's the league for you. They'll come back and hammer you." The Lakers organization was also fined $25,000. "If it was a $10 fine it would still bother me," Jackson said. He was angry with the free throw discrepancy - Denver's 49 attempts were 14 more than the Lakers - in Game Four and accused the Nuggets' Dahntay Jones of being unsportsmanlike for tripping Kobe Bryant.
The All-Star guard Bryant starred on Wednesday night as the Lakers took a 3-2 series lead. He scored 22 points, the reserve forward Lamar Odom contributed 19, along with 14 rebounds, as the Lakers maintained homecourt advantage. Carmelo Anthony poured in a game-high 31 points for the Nuggets, who led 73-66 late in the third quarter before the Lakers finally took control at a packed Staples Center and a partisan crowd. The Spanish forward Pau Gasol recorded a double-double with 14 points and 10 rebounds while guard Derek Fisher and forward Trevor Ariza each weighed in with 12 points as Los Angeles outscored their opponents 27-18 in the final quarter.
The best-of-seven series shifts to Denver for Game Six today. * Agencies