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Jackson lambasts Jones' defense tactics

LAKERS coach Phil Jackson accused Nuggets guard Dahntay Jones of playing "unsportsmanlike basketball" by intentionally tripping Kobe Bryant during Game 4 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night.

Jackson's accusation came after Los Angeles fell 101-120 to Denver to tie the series at 2-2. He became the second coach to call Jones dirty during the playoffs, joining Byron Scott of the New Orleans Hornets, who said the same thing in the first round.

The Lakers coach was upset with what he deemed inconsistent officiating that resulted in 49 Denver free throws - 14 more than the Lakers.

"There's another situation out there tonight that was unacceptable by Dahntay Jones," Jackson said. "Just unacceptable defense, tripping guys and playing unsportsmanlike basketball."

Jones stuck his right foot out while Bryant was cutting to the basket for a possible rebound late in the third quarter and Bryant went sliding across the lane. There was no call, and Bryant argued with referee Bennett Salvatore.

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 tried to stay away from the question when asked about it moments later - sort of.

"I just fell on my face for no reason," he said. "I'm a klutz."

Was Jones playing him dirty?

"Good defense," Bryant said.

Jones, a defensive specialist who starts for the Nuggets, has been charged with hounding Bryant at the start of the first and third quarters. In Game 2, he had five fouls by the middle of the third quarter.

He said he wasn't bothered by Jackson calling him dirty.

"Just playing hard," Jones said. "If he can't respect it, I'm sorry. I'm trying to be aggressive and give it all I have out there. My teammates appreciate it."

Especially Kenyon Martin, who has also been accused of dirty play.

"You're a dirty player now. Welcome. It's an elite club being considered one of those," Martin said when told about Jackson's comments.

In the first round of the playoffs, Scott was upset with the way Jones guarded Chris Paul.

"I can appreciate anybody that plays hard, but when you get to the point where you're being a little dirty, that's the thing that kind of aggravates me," Scott said.


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