The New York Knicks will head into a crucial Eastern Conference matchup at the Indiana Pacers on Thursday night and they'll do it without MVP candidate Carmelo Anthony.
The star forward was suspended one game by the NBA for "confronting Boston's Kevin Garnett in the arena tunnel, near the players' locker rooms, and in the parking garage following the Celtics at Knicks game on Jan. 7."
Anthony and Garnett battled all game long on Monday and things escalated following the game. Video showed Anthony, already showered and dressed, waiting outside for Garnett amid reports Garnett said some unflattering things about Anthony's wife.
"It's over with for me," Anthony said at practice on Tuesday. "I lost my cool yesterday. Certain things push certain people's buttons. I would tell you sit and tell you what those certain things are, what was said. What's done is done."
The Knicks fell to the Celtics at home on Monday night after two straight victories. J.R. Smith led the way with 24, followed by Anthony's 20, but the C's clearly rattled the Knickerbockers.
Boston held New York to 40.8 percent shooting from the field and shot almost 53 percent themselves. The Knicks are the fifth-best scoring team in the NBA and will need to hum offensively on Thursday night.
The Pacers, who are second in opponents' scoring, have steadily climbed the Eastern Conference standings and only trail the Knicks by 1 1/2 games for second behind the Miami Heat.
"We have to make sure we come in there focused, ready to play some good defense," said New York's Tyson Chandler. "They've got a big, strong lineup, rebound the ball well. We have to keep them out of the paint."
The Pacers head into this prime-time battle the winners of two straight and four of their last five. This is the third of four consecutive home games for Indiana and the Pacers played brilliantly on Tuesday.
The Pacers handled the Miami Heat, 87-77. It was another example of Indiana's great defense prevailing as the Heat are ranked No. 6 in scoring in the league.
Paul George led the way with 29 points and 11 boards, but all three members of the Pacers starting frontcourt registered double figures in rebounding. David West had 14 points and 11 rebounds and Roy Hibbert only managed six points, but cleaned the glass with 14 boards.
"That's what we do," said Hibbert. "We knew they lacked rebounding so David (West), myself and Ian (Mahinmi) just make sure we try to limit their second shots and try to create extra possessions for ourselves at the other end."
The Pacers held the Heat to 41 percent shooting, despite only shooting 36 percent themselves. Indiana only turned it over nine times.
The Pacers may be without starting point guard George Hill, who is battling bronchitis.
The Knicks won this season's only meeting, an 88-76 victory on Nov. 18 at Madison Square Garden. New York has lost three of its last five in Indianapolis.