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Technically speaking, a lot of the NBA calls aren't sticking

Lakers have experienced both sides of the trend — more fouls for unsportsmanlike behavior and the league's rescinding a far larger number of these fouls upon review.

January 24, 2011|By Mike Bresnahan

The Lakers aren't the only team experiencing technical difficulties this season.

Technical fouls for unsportsmanlike player behavior have increased 34% across the league from this time a year ago, part of a concerted effort by the NBA to crack down on animated on-court reactions.

An even bigger jump can be found in rescinded technical fouls, which have increased more than 300% from a year ago.

Referees have been busy, but the NBA office in New York has been even busier.

"Each technical is reviewed daily so that we can ensure that both players and officials have a clear understanding of the expectations," NBA spokesman Tim Frank said. "We are very pleased with the results so far this season."

Most players don't like the new emphasis, claiming they feel restrained. Lakers forward Lamar Odom said earlier this season that the NBA's slogan should be "Where Boring Happens" or "Where Regular Happens" instead of "Where Amazing Happens."

Or, as Denver guard Chauncey Billups said last weekend: "I don't mind them taking the disrespect out of the game. That's fair. But just the straight emotion, just being in tune to what's going on out there, I don't like that. I'm an emotional player and I'm an intense player, so when I'm in the heat of the battle and I don't agree with something, they are going to know it."

There have been 481 technical fouls called this season for unsportsmanlike player behavior, up from 360 a year ago. Thirty-seven technical fouls have been rescinded, more than triple the number from a year ago.

The Lakers have experienced both technical trends this month.

Andrew Bynum picked up two quick technical fouls and was ejected from a Jan. 9 game against the New York Knicks after being called for a foul and asking referee Leon Wood, "Are you serious?" The second technical foul was rescinded by the league the next day.

Likewise, Ron Artest had a technical foul rescinded a day after being ejected from a Jan. 16 game against the Clippers. Artest's transgression? He tried to pull Odom away from a confrontation with Clippers guard Baron Davis.

"I think the referees were told if there's a question, just give a technical out and we'll settle it down back here" in New York, said Lakers Coach Phil Jackson, referring to apparent directives from NBA Commissioner David Stern.

Twenty-seven players have had technical fouls rescinded, including some of the bigger names in the league.

Orlando center Dwight Howard is tied for the league lead with 12 technical fouls and has had four others rescinded. Denver forward Carmelo Anthony has eight technical fouls and three others have been rescinded. Clippers forward Blake Griffin has five technical fouls and two others rescinded.

"I think at the time it happens, it's kind of up to the referees' discretion and then [NBA officials] go back and review it and say, 'Maybe that wasn't right,' " said Billups, who is tied for fifth in the league with seven technical fouls.

If Howard did not have four of his technicals rescinded, he would have watched a recent game from home. Once a player is hit with a 16th technical foul, he is suspended for one game and fined $5,000. After that, a player is suspended another game for every two technical fouls assessed.

Players and coaches have been warned about the crackdown plenty of times.

"The amount of memos and the amount of videos we've been sent on what is a technical and what isn't a technical was amazing," Denver Coach George Karl said. "I think it puts pressure on the young officials. I think [NBA rule-makers] just want to see what it makes the game look like … or televised better."

Perhaps the Lakers' Odom, sighing heavily, said it best: "It is what it is."

Times staff writer Broderick Turner contributed to this report.

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