Boston entered the game as an angry team and the Knicks left the game angry. There were six technical fouls, two ejections and a lot of frustration — both inward and toward the officiating — in the visitors locker room at TD Garden.
“They came out hungrier than us,” Joakim Noah said, “and that can’t happen.”
What also can’t happen is Carmelo Anthony, who was carrying the Knicks early in this game to hold off the furious start by Boston, getting ejected before halftime.
He was dominating his matchup with Marcus Smart on the offensive side and the game was close, thanks to his scoring and a terrific push by the bench in the second quarter. Melo was tossed by referee Tony Brothers, who afterward said the Knicks’ leading scorer earned his two technical fouls for using “bad language.” Their history is well-documented and became a topic of discussion on social media. For instance, Tony Brothers was the lead referee the night Melo and Kevin Garnett had an altercation — which boiled over when the officiating failed to control the game — in Jan. 2013.
But while missing Melo hurt the Knicks in the second half, it was more undisciplined play that was alarming to coach Jeff Hornacek, who pointed out, “You can’t win with 25 turnovers.” Not when the Celtics turned them into 27 points. Then there was the other issue: Defense. The Knicks put the Celtics on the foul line 43 times for 34 points.
This was an ambush. Boston had lost three straight, were blown out in back-to-back games and there was a lot of talk coming out of their locker room about playing with a “hard-hat mentality.” Noah said the Knicks knew the Celtics would be inspired for this game and should have been ready for it.
Now we see if the Knicks carry their anger into Toronto tonight for a tough Atlantic Division road back-to-back. Noah challenged his team’s mentality to start games and that will be something to watch tonight against a Raptors team that won in Charlotte last night, and also had to fly on a back-to-back.
Our coverage on MSG begins at 7 PM with Knicks Game Night.