As soon as the NBA playoffs begin, the game turns more ornery. Intensity increases. Emotions rise. Tempers flare. And the referees, charged with maintaining order on the court, use the one weapon in their arsenal that can keep the peace: the technical foul.
The Denver Nuggets are learning the hard way. They were tagged with three Ts on Monday — by J.R. Smith, Carmelo Anthony and Kenyon Martin — in a 120-101 victory over the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals.
That brings the Nuggets’ total to 17 technicals in 14 postseason games. Coach George Karl is exasperated, but says his players must do a better job of policing themselves.
“These are things we’ve got to grow up and get by,” Karl said after his team tied the best-of-7 series at 2-all.
The Lakers also are getting a lot of whistles for being bad in the playoffs, drawing 15 technicals — five by Kobe Bryant — in 16 games.
• PLAYING IT SAFE — The Australian Tennis Federation was fined $10,000 for refusing to send its Davis Cup team to India this month because it feared for players’ safety. And Lleyton Hewitt was none too happy about the International Tennis Federation’s decision.
“It’s all a circus. The whole thing is a circus,” Hewitt said from Paris, where he is competing at the French Open. “The way the ITF went about it was a disgrace in the first place.”
Tennis Australia had appealed for a change of venue after the ITF said the southern Indian city of Chennai was approved by security consultants, but the appeal was rejected. In addition to the fine, the Aussies lost the right to host their next Davis Cup match.
• PEANUT-FREE ZONE — Virtually all baseball stadiums ban smoking. Others have no-alcohol “family” sections. Then there are the Camden (N.J.) Riversharks, who have a peanut-free area at their ballpark, Campbell Field.
Responding to a request from fans who are allergic to peanuts and peanut-related products, the Riversharks of the Independent Atlantic League have a suite in which no peanuts are allowed.
• TALL STORY — A basketball player missing his left hand has received a scholarship to play for Division I Manhattan College next season. It doesn’t hurt that Kevin Laue stands 6 feet 10 inches tall.
Laue is a center whose left arm ends just past the elbow. The California native played a postgraduate season at Fork Union Military Academy in Virginia in hopes of impressing college coaches. Laue averaged about 10 points and five rebounds competing against many Division I prospects.
Laue said he was unsure he would realize his dream of playing Division I ball before Manhattan contacted him just over a week ago. He signed with the team Wednesday.
Fork Union coach Fletcher Arritt says Laue’s shot-blocking skills and ability to run the floor will make him an effective college player.
COMPILED BY STEVE CARP LAS VEGAS REVIEW-JOURNAL