ORLANDO -- Amar'e Stoudemire said the technical foul called against him in the second quarter -- his 10th of the season -- was a misunderstanding by the official who made the call and he planned to file a protest with the league to have it rescinded.
Referee Derek Richardson immediately hit him with the T right after Stoudemire rejected a drive by Gilbert Arenas with 9:25 left in the second quarter.
"I told him to get that mess out of here," Stoudemire said, "and I got a tech."
He went on to explain that he has been saying that all year and never before was reprimaded with a tech. "It wasn't showing up the ref and I wasn't talking directly to Gilbert on that particular play," he added. "I said it actually twice during the game and for some reason I got a tech on that one."
Richardson and the officiating crew, which included James Capers and Pat Fraher, were notably lenient with Stoudemire -- as they were with Dwight Howard -- following that early tech. Stoudemire could have easily been hit with a second, an an immediate expulsion, from angry responses to fouls. In one incident, Stoudemire barked an expletive. He did so, however, turned away from any referee.
The 10 techs rank second in the NBA this season behind Howard, who has 12. According to league rules, when a player reaches 16 technicals in a season, he faces a one game suspension. With 50 games to go, Stoudemire has five more techs before he would be suspended. And, as we saw with him battling foul trouble against the Magic, the Knicks can ill-afford to lose him for an entire game.
Speaking of afford, Stoudemire faces a $3,000 fine for the technical. His next one will cost $4,000 according to the NBA's technical foul fine schedule. A player is charged $2,000 for each of his first five technicals and then $3,000 for the sixth through 10th. At 11, the fine goes up to $4,000 until No. 16, when it hits $5,000 and the one-game suspension.
The Knicks -- and Stoudemire -- have to hope he never gets that far.