Quicker than the smoke from the New York Knicks' pregame introduction pyrotechnics could clear, Carmelo Anthony drew a technical foul in Game 5 of his team's second-round series against the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night.
Anthony didn't really give the officials much choice in the matter, though, as he made a little too much contact with a defenseless, airborne D.J. Augustin after the whistle. There was really no need for the play, and it would be hard to argue that 'Melo was making any sort of effort to corral the ball.
For 'Melo, who has had to suffer through unrelenting taunts from some overzealous Boston Celtics fans in the first round, an offense that has ground to a halt around him all postseason long and the dogged defense of Paul George of the Pacers, it's easy to understand the pent-up frustration that might have caused the violation.
Still, 57 seconds into an elimination game seemed a little early to pick up a technical foul, especially for a superstar. Maybe Anthony was trying to send a message and the officials sensed it.
Good early tech Melo way to set the tone.— Eric Freeman (@freemaneric) May 17, 2013
It could have easily been a personal foul, or even a flagrant. But if we've learned anything from these playoffs, it's that the NBA is cracking down on physical play. Whenever anything looks like it has the potential to get out of hand, refs are whistling first and asking questions later.
Of course, some referees have been quicker to fire off technical fouls than others.
At Knicks-Pacers tonight. Not surprisingly, in a game Scott Foster is officiating there have been three technicals handed out already.— Tim Bontemps (@TimBontemps) May 17, 2013
To clarify, the second and third technicals referred to above took place during a stoppage early in the first quarter. David West and Iman Shumpert had a little run-in. Fortunately for Shumpert, West didn't turn the confrontation into a physical one.
West & Shumpert bumped into each other on the way to the timeout. West kept moving, Shump starting barking. Had to be pulled away.— John Schuhmann (@johnschuhmann) May 17, 2013
Three techs within the first five minutes? It's safe to say that neither team is suffering from a lack of intensity.
Later on, Lance Stephenson tried to throw one down on Tyson Chandler, which the big man clearly didn't want to let happen. The two met in a bone-jarring collision that sent Stephenson plummeting to the hardwood.
It wasn't a dirty play, but we've seen testy teams take offense to much less contact during this postseason. Thanks to the quick establishment of order in the first quarter, nobody from either team sought to escalate the situation.