GREENBURGH, N.Y. — It was out of character for Taj Gibson to explode Thursday night, when he picked up a pair of technical fouls and was ejected by official Ben Taylor less than four minutes after entering the game.
He is sure it won’t happen again — and it had better not, with Nikola Jokic (25.7 points, 13.8 rebounds, 6.4 assists per game) and the Denver Nuggets visiting Madison Square Garden on Saturday afternoon.
Gibson’s quick hook was particularly costly to the Knicks in their 119-115 loss to the Bulls on Thursday because Nerlens Noel was sidelined with a sore right knee, Jericho Sims was sidelined with a non-COVID-19 illness and Mitchell Robinson was struggling through his own issues — recovering from a stomach bug, then taking a blow to the stomach early in the game while he continues to work his way into shape.
The Knicks expect to have all four centers available Saturday, and they'll need them. But for Gibson in particular, he suffered a rare loss of composure that hurt his team, and he insisted it won’t happen again.
"To be honest with you, I didn’t think it would go that far," he said. "I have a good relationship with all the refs in the league. I say their names. I understand we have to work with them. So it’s like a co-worker. I know you have to understand the basics, but I know all of them by heart. I talk to them before the game.
"I didn’t think he was going that far . . . I just thought it was going to be one [technical]. I understood it would’ve been a tech. I just wanted to get one, just so he would understand where I’m coming from. I would’ve talked to him at halftime and we would have talked about it and moved on. But I didn’t really think it would have been an ejection. That’s why I left in a timely fashion. I was disappointed I let my teammates down, but just gotta move on and be better for the next one."
Gibson, who had been called for a pair of offensive fouls for illegal screens on successive possessions, didn’t agree with the calls, but he thought his reaction was a culmination of days of frustration. The Knicks had spent Tuesday griping about the officiating in Brooklyn after a two-point loss to the Nets.
"That’s part of the game, know what I’m saying?" Gibson said. "There are parts of the game where the refs are giving us calls and we tend not to just give it any praise, you know what I’m saying? It’s a part of the game. They work just like us. We’re gonna see them every game throughout the year. They’re gonna make mistakes, we’re gonna make mistakes. It’s part of the game, it’s not a big deal.
"I think it was just emotions after a tough, hard-fought —- two tough, hard-fought games. That’s all it is, emotions. We’re all human, we have emotions. We’re playing hard and trying to win and trying to compete for something special, so these things happen.
"I think the refs are gonna have their ups and downs. I think they do a good job as far as monitoring the game. It may not go your [way] some nights, but that’s part of the NBA. Nothing is gonna really change. You just have to continue to play hard and then have a real [dialogue] with them every game."
Notes & quotes: Coach Tom Thibodeau said RJ Barrett practiced after sitting out Thursday with a non-COVID-19 illness and is probable to play against Denver. He added that Noel went through a full practice, but the Knicks did very little contact work.