(Long Island, NY) Maybe this is one way of taking some of the attention away from the growing list of New York Knicks bad performances at home. On this occasion, the opponent was the Denver Nuggets and the loss was by 23 points. But that wasn’t the ugliest part of the evening.
With 1:15 left in the game, a hard foul by Knick rookie Mardy Collins on Denver’s J.R. Smith set off a Donny-brook, resulting in 10 total players being ejected from the game and a multitude of upcoming suspensions. Smith took exception to the flagrant foul by Collins, and the two started jawing at each other. If there was a ‘third man in’ rule in the NBA as there is in hockey, then Nate Robinson would have been the culprit. He interjected himself into the situation and shoved Smith, resulting in a wrestling match between Robinson and Smith. The two tumbled into the courtside seats, and the two teams were involved in a mess of a brawl.
Nuggets’ star Carmelo Anthony, the league’s leading scorer, then landed a right to Collins’ face. Things could have gone worse if the players did not remain on their respective benches, which is required by the NBA. The officials, led by long time referee Dick Bavetta, decided to eject all the players that were on the floor at the time of the incident. At least the remainder of the game continued without any further shenanigans.
Will this spark the Knicks into becoming a jelled team? Sometimes, negative incidents such as this gives a club that little edge to them that they may have been previously lacking. Especially a team that is getting pushed around and blown out in their own building.
What frustrated the Knicks is that the Nuggets were still playing their starters with a large lead in the waning minutes. Kind of like throwing salt in the wounds. But the Knicks have no one to blame but themselves for trailing by as much as 24 points by the third quarter and seeing their record at Madison Square Garden fall to 4-10.
This was a poor display of professionalism on both sides. Robinson should not have injected himself the way he did, and Anthony was completely wrong in throwing the first punch. Knicks head coach Isiah Thomas was not one to shy away from physical incidents during his playing days with the Bad Boys, aka the Detroit Pistons. But he would not condone anything of this magnitude.
Just what comes out of the league office in terms of fines and suspensions remains to be seen. Having your young players watching from the bench in suits cannot help. But if this wakes up a team that forgot how to play defense and used to intimidate clubs at home, maybe it was not all for naught.