Down 16 with 4:45 to play, the Knicks finally showed some fight Friday night against the Chicago Bulls.
But it wasn't the kind of fight that wins you games. It was the kind that often leads to suspensions.
Tyson Chandler and Joakim Noah were ejected for fighting in the fourth quarter of Chicago's win over New York. The two centers were tangled up near the rim when Chandler appeared to swing his elbow at Noah twice before turning around. Chandler and Noah then exchanged words and Noah appeared to head butt Chandler. The two had to be separated by teammates and officials.
"I felt like he had a hold of me and didn’t let go and that was it," Chandler said. "I got frustrated from there."
No punches were thrown. Chandler, though, didn't think he deserved to be tossed.
"It’s one thing if you fight, but it’s another if you just have a little quick misunderstanding," he said.
The Chandler-Noah dustup was one of several "misunderstandings" on Friday. Mike Woodson and Carmelo Anthony were both tossed for arguing calls. Player and coach were whistled for a combined four technicals for complaining to the refs.
In all, referees issued 10 technical fouls in the game, a 110-106 Bulls victory.
The Knicks appeared to be frustrated by a lack of foul calls but the numbers didn't bear out a noticeable discrepancy -- both teams were whistled for 25 fouls. The Bulls attempted eight more free throws than the Knicks, due in part to the five Knicks technicals.
"I'm pretty sure the refs knew the calls that they missed. It was a tough night," Anthony said. "[A] Chicago-New York game will always be a physical game. We'll see them again January [11th] though, back at the Garden. We will be prepared for that."
The Bulls' defense also frustrated New York.
Tom Thibodeau's club held the Knicks (19-7) to 41 percent shooting. New York scored just 16 points in the second quarter. The club missed 16 of its 23 attempts in the second, and trailed by 15 at the half.
"They took us out of some things that we wanted to accomplish," Chandler said. "They were scrappy. And they slowed the pace."
Chicago, which led by as many as 25 in the third quarter, also negated Steve Novak. They limited him to just one 3-point shot attempt in 31 minutes. The Bulls' perimeter defense was spot on against New York, which finished 8-for-26 from beyond the arc.
Woodson said it looked like a "carbon copy" of the teams' first meeting, when Chicago held New York to a season-low 32 percent shooting.
"I think from the jump, they were the more physical team," Anthony said. "From the beginning of the game. [Then] it carried out throughout the whole game. It kind of got to us a little bit."
It got to Anthony with 34 seconds to play in the first. He yelled at the refs after he thought he was fouled on a drive and got his first technical. His second came with 6:45 to go in the game after Anthony appeared frustrated when referees didn't call a foul on two hard Noah screens.
Shortly thereafter, Anthony slapped at Noah's arm when the Bulls big man grabbed an offensive rebound. He was whistled for a foul and argued with referee Olandis Poole, who quickly ejected him.
"One of them nights, one of them days, move on I guess," he said. "[Stuff] happens."
Anthony was sitting in the locker room after the ejection when he heard loud jeers from the Garden crowd.
"I walked to the hallway and Woody was walking back here," he said with a laugh.
Minutes later, Anthony walked out of the shower and saw Chandler sitting in the locker room after he had been ejected.
Coach, defensive leader and biggest offensive threat all out of the game with five minutes to play.
"Once I saw that, [I knew] that's how the night was going," he said.