The Knicks fell to Atlanta in overtime last night, 102-98, and they did most of it without Carmelo Anthony. Anthony was ejected in the second quarter for a forearm to the face of Thabo Sefolosha while the two were tangled up under the basket.
The refs originally called double technicals, but they reviewed the play and ruled a flagrant 2 on Anthony, sending him to the showers.
“He threw a punch,” Sefolosha said. “A fist right to my face. It’s whatever. The referee — I’m glad they looked back at it — they made the right call.”
I don’t know about a punch—it was closer to a wrist than a fist—but Anthony did appear to have his hand around Sefolosha’s throat prior to the strike. I have no idea what led up to this, and Anthony wasn’t forthcoming, telling reporters only “I’ll talk to y’all tomorrow.”
It’s Anthony’s second ejection of the season, and the 10th of his career. In that time frame only three players have been ejected more often: Matt Barnes, DeMarcus Cousins, and Rip Hamilton.
There’s a persistent strain of thinking that the Knicks are better without Melo, though the numbers don’t back it up—they’re 0-11 over the last two seasons when he doesn’t play. What might be true is that they’re a more defensively minded team, and they looks good on that end last night, coming up with some big stops late. But the offense definitely suffered, and it’s ludicrous to pretend they’re more dangerous with Lance Thomas in there than Anthony. As a result, a number of big balls ended up in the hands of Derrick Rose, who’s certainly been good this season, but he missed a potential winner late in overtime, and turned the ball over down one with seconds left:
“I tried to get it to [Porzingis,]” Rose said, “and I fucking slipped, man.”
The Hawks closed to within a half-game of the Knicks, and there are now eight teams within two-and-a-half games of each other for the bottom four seeds in the East, which is a conference probably not worth devoting too much attention to for another three months.