In their two losses in L.A., the Nuggets never quit barking at Kobe Bryant and got called for a half-dozen technical fouls, including a double-whammy on All-Star Allen Iverson, who was tossed from Game 1.
“I would prefer us staying more professional and stay away from the trash talking,” Nuggets coach George Karl said Friday.
The series shifts to Denver on Saturday and the Nuggets know they can’t keep provoking Bryant and the fed-up officials if they’re to have any hope of turning around this series.
“In the playoffs, you get a little more emotional,” Lakers forward Lamar Odom. “You can’t help it, every game is so important. When we’re at their place, we’ll try to avoid that.”
The Nuggets, who led the league in technicals during the season, were unable to keep their composure on the road.
“I think we all know it’s part of our immaturity a times,” Karl said. “You don’t earn respect by getting technical fouls.”
It’s apparently not wise to keep egging on Bryant, either. He had 49 points and 10 assists in Game 2, when J.R. Smith threw more trash talk at the MVP favorite than even Kenyon Martin did in the opener.
Smith kept barking when Bryant was in the midst of a 19-point surge spanning less than 4 1/2 minutes in the fourth quarter.
“Good conversation,” said a smiling Bryant, who acknowledged that the insults from the 22-year-old Smith fueled his fire.
Yet some Nuggets shrugged off their frustration fouls and all the off-color commentary.
“That’s just the way the game of basketball is,” Smith said. “People are going to talk trash. People are going to do what they got to do to win games.”
Marcus Camby said the technicals were “just a lot of frustration. And that’s just guys wanting to win so bad and they’re just trying to go out there and fight, so you can’t knock the effort. It’s not really a problem. When them techs happened, the game was pretty much out of hand late in the fourth quarter, lead was double digits.”
Those late-game Ts certainly didn’t engender any goodwill with the officials, however, and they contributed to the notion the Nuggets are just overmatched and way too worried about whistles.
Karl, for one, didn’t like the timing of the technical fouls.
“I think earlier in the game is more understandable and there might be a motivation part there. I can handle that better,” Karl said. “In the fourth quarter, every point could strategically have an impact on the game. On the road, it’s a multiple impact on the game. So, keeping your composure, keeping your focus and not beating yourself is a big part of winning games in the NBA.
“A lot of times you win games if you just don’t beat yourself. Technicals are a gift to the other team.”
To make this series competitive and avoid a fifth straight one-and-done trip to the playoffs, the Nuggets are going to have to keep their composure and quit giving the Lakers such presents.
“Oh, you got to,” Linas Kleiza said. “When they play on their homecourt they’re going to get the calls going their way. It’s just the nature. But I don’t feel officials do a bad job or anything like that. We just gotta keep our composure better. It’s frustrating to lose and sometimes we take it out on the wrong people. We take it out on the officials, and it hurt us.”
The Nuggets are counting on some of the toss-up calls to go their way at the Pepsi Center, where they went 33-8 this season, and Karl’s hoping the homecourt energy leads to a little less talk and a lot more action.
The Lakers know that will make the Nuggets a tougher team to beat.
“I think they’re an emotional bunch,” Bryant said. “Once they get the crowd behind them, their emotions can be their biggest strength.”
Instead of their biggest weakness.
Kleiza has a swollen right elbow from his fall in Game 2 when he was fouled hard by Pau Gasol. … Lakers F Ronny Turiaf, who has played just three minutes in the series because of tonsillitis, was slow and lethargic in practice Friday, coach Phil Jackson said. “I’m actually eating and drinking today. I’ll be ready to go,” said Turiaf, who’s lost 11 pounds while sick.