NEW YORK -- Phil Jackson might as well have taken a glove and backhanded Pat Riley in the face. That's how the New York Knicks coach took comments made by his counterpart after the Knicks' win in Game 4 Sunday.
Jackson essentially contended the officials were letting the Knicks get away with playing football on the basketball court.
"I think what he's doing is insulting us, basically," Riley said. "I was part of six championship teams, I've been to the finals 13 times and I know what a championship demeanor is all about. The fact he's whining and whimpering about the officiating is an insult to how hard our guys are playing and how much our guys want to win."
Riley made his statement Monday as the Knicks were boarding the bus that would take them to the airport for Game 5 tonight at Chicago Stadium in a series tied at two games apiece.
Jackson did not get to see the fateful final quarter of the Knicks' 93-86 victory, having been ejected by Dick Bavetta with 4.4 seconds remaining in the third quarter. The Bulls led at the time, 67-65, but the Knicks scored the next eight points and never lost the lead.
"They were pushing our dribblers with two hands; that's football," Jackson said following the game. "I was also against the board (rebound) play. I think the league has to take a serious look at this type of play. You could have called a foul on every play."
The Knicks are even with the Bulls greatly because of their physical play at the defensive end, as well as on both boards, as their whopping 52-33 rebound advantage Sunday attests. And they're not about to change their style now, having limited the Bulls to only 88.7 points per game.
"We expect them to come out [in Game 5] like gangbusters," Mark Jackson said of the Bulls. "We're going to do the same thing. We just have to continue to do the things that we're doing well and do better with the things we're not. Come out with a victory."
That Phil Jackson and some of his players are complaining about the Knicks' playing style has boosted the Knicks' confidence. So has the fact the Knicks have caused the Bulls to alter their offensive game.
"If you can have a great team like the Bulls make an adjustment, that's what you want," Anthony Mason said. "Usually a team that is that great will just stay with what they're used to. But if they try to change their game, that's our whole goal, get them out of their rhythm."
The physical nature of the game, as well as Xavier McDaniel's mouth, has taken a toll on Scottie Pippen, who did not play well in the Bulls' losses.