by Marcel Mutoni

Prior to the festivities, it wasn’t too hard to guess that the Lakers would get the calls on their home floor in the pivotal fifth game of the Western Conference Finals. That’s just the way these things typically work.

Evidently, the Denver Nuggets don’t agree. And according to one soul in powder blue (who shall remain nameless, largely because he asked the reporter he spoke with not to identify him), the Lakers got the win last night the old fashioned way: they bought it.

The Denver Post reports:

The NBA has an integrity problem, as shrill and annoying as a referee’s whistle. If the competitors don’t trust the truth in the final score, why should we? Did the Nuggets lose to the Los Angeles Lakers 103-94, or were they robbed by referees who gave favorable calls to a marquee franchise that pumps up television ratings?

Does the league want to see superstar Kobe Bryant in the NBA Finals rather than the tattooed bad boys of Denver? In an accusation that goes straight to the heart of the sport’s integrity, one member of the Nuggets shook his head in disgust after the game, and could not believe how cheap it was for Los Angeles to buy a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals.

“The Lakers paid $50,000 to win that game. They got their money’s worth,” said a Denver player, not wanting to be identified for fear of retribution from the league.

Mr. Anonymous is of course talking about the $50k total Phil Jackson and the Lakers were fined after his criticism of the refs following Game 4.

L.A. shot exactly 5 more free throws than Denver last night, were whistled for 8 less fouls, and were able to dominate the paint for much of the second half (with Nene fouling out in the fourth quarter.) And now the Nuggets are on the brink of elimination.

Sounds like money well spent to me.