Based on what Celtics forward/professional agitator Kevin Garnett said about Carmelo Anthony's wife during Monday night's game, it's hard to blame Anthony for wanting to knock Garnett's teeth down his throat.
Anthony didn't do that, but his poor decision to wait for Garnett outside the locker room and team bus still wound up costing him a game when the NBA suspended him on Wednesday. Anthony will have to sit out against the Pacers on Thursday night, leaving Mike Woodson with some curious decisions to make about his rotation.
It would seem to be the perfect night to let Amar'e Stoudemire spin a little more since there's no Melo for him to fit in alongside for key stretches of the game. Stoudemire came up sore after Woodson played him 28 minutes on Monday and he'll have to pare things down for at least the next couple of games as a result.
The jump in minutes was a bit odd at the time because it felt like Woodson was pushing Stoudemire to see how he reacted to both bigger minutes and a fourth quarter situation even though he looked ready for neither over the course of the night. Hindsight obviously says you'd rather have 10 more minutes from him on Thursday, but you can't really blame Woodson for being proactive about figuring out just how he'll use Amar'e moving forward while also dealing with Rasheed Wallace's continued absence.
And, if all that isn't enough, J.R. Smith is also coming off a cut that needed stitches.
We don't doubt that Smith will be able to shrug off such a cut well enough to throw down a reverse alley oop while reciting the Gettysburg Address in middle English, but it's all a bit more threadbare than you'd like to see on the front end of back-to-back games. And that should serve as a decent lesson for the Knicks about keeping their heads.
On several occasions this season, the Knicks have failed against opponents that challenged them physically. They've lost games, but, perhaps more significantly, they've lost their cool and shown teams the easiest way to throw them off track is to literally try to throw them around the court.
When frustrated by that, the Knicks devolve into complaining and get drawn into the kinds of shoving matches that lead to technical fouls, ejections and suspensions. All hurt the team and all give the opposition a route to victory that they can't carve out without the help of the Knicks doing the heavy lifting.
The Knicks have already done much of it for the Pacers on Thursday, making Friday night's date with the Bulls a better test of how they can control themselves in more physical situations. They've lost to the Bulls twice this year and saw Anthony, Woodson and Chandler all ejected from the game they lost at Madison Square Garden in December.
You can't make things that easy on the opposition, so the Knicks must let Anthony's suspension be a moment to reflect on the cost of the tough guy posturing on the court. Whatever the likes of Garnett might say, beating him is the best revenge and it is a lot less likely to happen if you can't keep your focus.