Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks Must Keep Their Poise to Win Atlantic Division

Thomas WalterContributor IIJanuary 8, 2013

Things got heated at MSG last night
Things got heated at MSG last nightBruce Bennett/Getty Images

Calm down, Carmelo!

The Knicks star forward received his ninth technical foul of the 2012-13 NBA season as New York hosted the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden Monday night.  Anthony was talking aggressively back and forth with Kevin Garnett for most of the fourth quarter as they both received technical fouls with nine minutes left in the game.

If any player were to reach 16 technical fouls at any course throughout the season he would be suspended for one game.  Anthony needs to stop losing his temper in order to avoid suspension.

Anthony was abysmal, a season low 6-for-26, from the field last night as Boston stole a win from the Knicks on their home floor.  His poor play in the fourth quarter was no doubt a result of failing to control his emotions.

This loss to the Celtics stops the momentum that the Knicks have had all throughout the year in the Atlantic Division.  Winning their division would be key for the Knicks to gain home court advantage throughout the playoffs.

However, by letting the Celtics build confidence—last night added another game to Boston’s current win streak—the Knicks' chokehold on the division has loosened a bit.

The game was close all the way through the final minutes of the fourth quarter when Boston made their final push.  Anthony’s shooting woes continued as he was not able to make a basket when the Knicks needed him most.

But, the Knicks’ play in the loss highlights a bigger problem that has been recurring throughout the season.

When teams play physical against them, the Knickerbockers tend to lose their cool and get frustrated.  It has happened against the Chicago twice, Memphis and now Boston.

But, it’s not just Anthony who has let his temper get the best of him.  J.R. Smith, Rasheed Wallace and Tyson Chandler have also received at least three technicals this season.  Coach Woodson has also lost his cool several times during games.

So, how do the Knicks change this?

Well, for starters, it begins with the leaders.  Woodson, Chandler and Anthony all need to set a better example for the team rather than losing their tempers during the difficult games.  Jason Kidd, a key offseason signing for the Knicks, handles his emotions very well.  Chandler and Anthony should mimic the way Kidd handles himself.

In addition, having Amar'e Stoudemire back helps give the Knicks more energy when games are rough and physical coming down the stretch.  Amar’e showed his toughness Monday night as he scored 13 points in 28 minutes.  Stoudemire has increased his points in each game since coming back from the injury.

Third, Iman Shumpert will also help significantly.  Shumpert, who participated in a full-contact practice for the first time in seven months earlier Tuesday, is inching closer towards a return to the Knicks’ lineup.

Finally, and perhaps most importantly, the Knicks need to not let opponents get in their heads and disrupt New York's style of play.  Anthony was yelling too much at Garnett rather than focusing on playing his best basketball.  It was a key reason why the Knicks lost the game.

If the Knicks are to prove themselves true title contenders, it will start with their leaders showing their poise, not their tempers, during the heat of the moment in closely contested games.