Thursday, December 22, 2011
Pau Gasol: Clippers flopped too much
By Dave McMenamin
LOS ANGELES -- It was just a preseason game, so the result of the Los Angeles Clippers' 108-103 win on Wednesday hardly mattered. Yet the Staples Center co-tenants renewed their rivalry with all the contentiousness of a playoff game.
Things got a little chippy like they almost always seem to do when these teams meet.
The physical play boiled over when Matt Barnes was called for a flagrant 1 foul for pushing Blake Griffin to the floor with 6:48 remaining in the third quarter.
"I thought we had some pretty good fouls. I don't know about the (flagrant), I got to go back and watch the replay," said Lakers coach Mike Brown. "Hopefully we won't get flagrant fouls. What that does is gives them free shots and the ball back, but I thought we had some good, solid, hard fouls which is what we should do because we're deep. So, if a guy fouls out, we got another guy that can step in and play."
Barnes left the locker room before speaking to the media and declined an interview request as he was walking out of the arena, but Lakers forward Pau Gasol offered an explanation for all the hard fouls.
"I think we were upset that they were flopping a little too much," said Gasol.
Griffin seemed to draw the ire of the most Lakers as he received hard contact from Barnes, Gasol and Josh McRoberts on different occasions.
Los Angeles Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro said he was fully aware of the target Griffin has had placed on him across the NBA this season. But he believes the third-year forward will be able to handle the extra attention with the help of his teammates.
"We have to do a good job, as a team, protecting Blake when things like that happen," he said. "And we will."
Griffin shrugged off the Barnes foul after the game.
"I don't even look at it as a dirty play or anything like that. We just kind of ran into each other at the same time," Griffin said. "It's always great to have your teammates there for you, backing you up."
Del Negro said he was pleased Griffin did not overreact to Barnes' foul.
"I think Blake has done a fantastic job in these first two preseason games controlling his emotions with the referees," Del Negro said. "It was good to see that he kept his composure."
Late in the fourth quarter, Griffin drew a key charge on Barnes that helped give the Clippers the victory. Asked if he took any special pleasure in drawing it off Barnes considering the earlier events, Griffin deflected.
"Coaches always say to be prepared to take advantage of situations like that," Griffin said. "He pushed off, and I feel like that's the only way to work on that -- making sure we're in the right defensive position, taking the charge."
The Lakers were called for 31 fouls while the Clippers were whistled for 18.
The physical play could have been fueled by the Lakers and Clippers playing their second game in the course of three days against one another, but there also seemed to be a carryover from last season when there were multiple incidents between the two teams.
Griffin, Metta World Peace, Lamar Odom and Baron Davis were all ejected with 5.7 seconds left in the Clippers' 99-92 win over the Lakers last January after Odom confronted Griffin for what he described as Griffin "ramming him in the back" while Odom tried to rebound after a free throw attempt.
When the teams met in March, Chris Kaman was ejected and Derek Fisher was whistled for a technical foul after the two mixed it up when Kaman set a hard screen on Fisher with 28.8 seconds left and the Lakers up 110-104.
The teams play three times this season: Jan. 14, Jan. 25 and April 4.
Dave McMenamin covers the Lakers for ESPNLosAngeles.com. Pedro Moura contributed to this report.