With the New York Knicks and Indiana Pacers locked in a pivotal Game 4 in Indiana, Tyson Chandler set the tone early with a hard shove, and Amar'e Stoudemire followed closely with a tech of his own a few minutes later.
With two minutes left in the first quarter, Chandler took offense to some physicality by Roy Hibbert under the hoop after D.J. Augustin dropped in a layup, so he delivered a solid shove to Indiana's center.
Tyson Chandler just called for a tech. Shouldn't he just be happy that he robbed Roy Hibbert for 1st team All Defense?— Mike Wells (@MikeWellsNBA) May 14, 2013
Tyson, why?— Noam Schiller (@noamschiller) May 14, 2013
Seemingly not wanting to be left out, Stoudemire took it upon himself to get on Chandler's level and do more or less the same thing to Ian Mahinmi early on in the second quarter.
Amare Stoudemire: $19M, two fouls, one tech.— Shaun Powell (@Powell2daPeople) May 14, 2013
New York had turned the game into exactly what Indiana wanted: a slopfest.
Indiana's game is predicated on slowing things down and taking the opposition out of its rhythm, which is exactly what happens when the other team starts tossing around shoves and getting technical fouls.
Of course, all of this comes in the wake of Chandler's comments about New York's need to share the basketball more and play a more team-oriented game.
Chandler's criticism comes in a series in which he's averaging just seven points and five rebounds per game.
It's unclear whether Chandler's shove was directed toward Hibbert or toward his teammates as a message that they need to toughen up and maximize their effort.
The big fella was able to put up five points, five rebounds and two blocks in the first half, so he was well on his way to having his best game of the series so far, but the Knicks found themselves in a 14-point hole.