Originally created 05/11/04

Brown believes referees trying to antagonize Wallace



EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. -- Taking a swipe at the referees without naming names, Detroit Pistons coach Larry Brown charged Monday that some officials have tried to antagonize forward Rasheed Wallace.

"It's just not right, it's not fair," said Brown, whose Pistons lead the New Jersey Nets 2-1 in their Eastern Conference semifinal. "I just think they disrespect the kid in general, that's the bottom line. They can fine me or whatever they want, I'm just telling you a fact."

Brown was angered after Wallace was limited to 22 minutes because of foul trouble in New Jersey's 82-64 victory in Game 3.

Game 4 is Tuesday night.

Wallace went to the bench with two personal fouls before Detroit scored its first point, and the Pistons were down 18 by the time the volatile forward returned four minutes into the second quarter.

After the game, Wallace said the Nets' victory should have an asterisk attached because of the way it was officiated - a comment that didn't sit well with Nets forward Kenyon Martin.

"It doesn't make any sense," said Martin, who played only 21 minutes because of foul trouble. "Didn't he play more minutes than I did?"

The Nets had their own issues with the officiating. Coach Lawrence Frank wondered why so many fouls were whistled against the Nets after Brown was given a technical foul late in the first quarter.

"I was told the technical and the 23 fouls that ensued had nothing to do with coach Brown's status as a coach," said Frank, the league's youngest head coach.

Brown has been coaching in the pros for 32 years, or one year longer than Frank has been alive.

Earlier in the series, Brown angered Nets president Rod Thorn by making a dismissive remark about Frank while commenting on New Jersey's midseason coaching change from Byron Scott to Frank.

Brown took another minor shot at Frank on Monday, charging he regularly strays beyond the borders of the coaching box at a time when referees have been cracking down on that violation.

"As long as you police me, police the other guy. When you have a guy running out to halfcourt and yelling out plays and being on the court, I guess that doesn't apply to everybody else," Brown said.

Both teams were frustrated by the officiating, which disrupted the flow and sent several players to the bench for extended time. There were a total of 55 personal fouls, 30 against the Nets, and each team went to the free throw line 26 times.

"The way the game was being called and played, it was an ugly game," said Ben Wallace, who grabbed 24 of Detroit's 45 rebounds.

"It was established early that it wasn't about X's and O's, or coaches, or running plays. It was just about heart and determination. Everybody knows when they get running and get that crowd involved, they're a tough team to beat."

One of the best adjustments the Nets made was giving Kerry Kittles the defensive assignment on point guard Chauncey Billups, who shot just 1-for-10.

"There are very few players that understand the individual tendencies of players better than him," Frank said.

Also, Richard Jefferson dominated his small forward matchup with Tayshaun Prince, and little-used reserve forward Brian Scalabrine played 14 effective minutes when Martin, Rodney Rogers and Jason Collins were sitting because of foul trouble.

The Pistons didn't get as much from the players who subbed for Rasheed Wallace, whose combative personality and quick temper have earned him dozens of technical fouls over his career.

"My issue is with this kid, the way he's a target," Brown said. "I've seen that since before I had him, and I'm seeing it firsthand, and that's the thing that's not fair in my mind."

Brown said one referee gave a disbelieving look to assistant coach John Kuester after asking how it is to coach Wallace and being told he's "the greatest kid."

"You watch when a referee talks to him and responds to him in a positive way, he's never disrespectful to them," Brown said of Wallace, who didn't speak with reporters Monday. "I think he's trying, I really do. Look at Kenyon, you've got a guy on the other side, you know how two years ago people looked at him. Well, he's fought through it.

"When guys get upset, sometimes I think it shows you care. You don't want to do anything to embarrass anybody, but I don't want anybody to antagonize my kid, and sometimes I think that's the issue I have," Brown said.