Boston vs. New York City.
Beantown vs. the Big Apple.
No matter the sport (or the topic, for that matter), the two cities have a seemingly genuine hatred for one another.
And it's one that always provides for the most compelling drama on television.
Monday night's tilt between the Boston Celtics and the New York Knicks was none the variation—simply standard procedure in a gripping (telling, even?) 102-96 statement win by the C's over the Knicks in Madison Square Garden.
The game was defined by the physical play befitting two of the toughest teams that the NBA has to offer. Maybe Paul Pierce is more of a lover than a fighter, though, as the Celtics lifer graced the stunned Knicks fans with a blown kiss befitting of the importance of his clutch basket late in the proceedings.
The night's greatest drama came on the basketball court, although not quite in the way that you would expect, as Celtics big man Kevin Garnett and Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony stole the show from the actual game. Their incessant jawing and banging led to technical fouls for both players early in the fourth quarter:
This is the sequence in the post that lead to the KG-Melo double-tech. hardwoodparoxysm.com/Gifs/melokg_1.… KG goes high, then Melo elbows him in the back.— Eye on Basketball (@EyeOnBasketball) January 8, 2013
As it turns out, Garnett and Anthony both avoided ejections. Well, narrowly avoided ejections might be a better way to put it:
Melo gets fifth foul hacking KG then trash talks him some more. Think Woodson needs to reign Anthony in. KG trying to ignore him.— Marc Berman (@NYPost_Berman) January 8, 2013
On that fifth foul, Anthony provided some choice words for Garnett.
And what exactly were those words? Well, here's how Gary Washburn of the Boston Globe saw it:
Anthony, perhaps frustrated by both the loss and his own performance (20 points on 6-of-26 shooting) reportedly kept those hard feelings after the final whistle. As some players met in hurried exchanges, Anthony allegedly had different plans in mind:
Al Trautwig just reported Carmelo was in tunnel, by #Celtics locker room, yelling at someone, and had to be restrained.
— Got 'Em Coach (@GotEm_Coach) January 8, 2013
The reported incident wasn't enough to draw a comment out of Knicks coach Mike Woodson, but it was enough for Woodson to feel the need to deflect any inquiries from reporters:
Mike Woodson refused to comment about the report of Carmelo outside the Celtics locker room before he was even asked about. So there's that— Frank Isola (@FisolaNYDN) January 8, 2013
The Anthony incident was just the culmination of a night of letdowns for Knicks fans.
Without point guard Rajon Rondo (the league leader in assists was serving a one-game suspension for making contact with an official during the Celtics' 89-81 victory over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday), the Celtics rolled into New York City and left with the kind of win capable of putting the rest of the Eastern Conference on alert.
With Monday night's win, the Celtics have quietly rattled off three consecutive victories, all of which came against three members of the conference's top five teams (Knicks, Hawks and Indiana Pacers).