With the final seconds ticking off their 18th double-digit loss of the season, frustrations boiled over for Elfrid Payton and the New York Knicks.
It was an ugly night for the Knicks. Ja Morant added several clips to his prodigious rookie highlight reel. Seven different Grizzlies scored in double-figures. Dillon Brooks dropped 27 and it all added up to an 18-point Memphis lead with under a minute left. Unable to simply run out the clock without taking a 24-second violation, Jae Crowder retreated to the corner to hoist up a meaningless 3-pointer.
Elfrid Payton played defense by using both hands to shove Crowder out of bounds, which sparked a skirmish on the sidelines with plenty of shouting and chest-bumping.
In addition to Payton’s shove, there’s at least one good strong push by Marcus Morris which could theoretically draw a suspension. Payton also needed to be essentially carried away by a Knicks staffer, or things could have been much worse.
If you’re wondering what could have drawn such an aggressive act from the normally staid Payton, playing on a 13-35 team while averaging career-lows in minutes, points, field goal percentage, 3-point percentage, free throw percentage and free-throw rate can wear on a guy. Payton also missed a good portion of the beginning of the season so he’s only had a chance to play in 10 of the Knicks’ 13 wins.
The ramifications here are likely small. Payton misses a few games. Maybe the coaching staff notices he’s gone, maybe they don’t. Who’s to say? The Knicks’ point guard rotation continues to be a muddle. Marcus Morris gets traded next week, perhaps getting to throw a life raft to another player or two. And then the battle for the worst record in the league can resume.