Bargnani began mouthing off in Kevin Garnett's ear to the point that he drew a second technical foul and automatic ejection.
And Garnett and the Brooklyn Nets couldn't do anything but take the trash talk.
On Thursday night in Brooklyn, the Knicks didn't just humiliate the Nets to snap a nine-game losing streak. They rediscovered their swagger and perhaps found some fight they had been missing.
This 113-83 thrashing of the Nets could've done more than just potentially saving Knicks coach Mike Woodson's job. Perhaps this is the win that jump-starts the Knicks' season.
"With a win like this, we definitely get our confidence back and get our mojo, our swag back," Amar'e Stoudemire said.
Jason Kidd's Nets gave the Knicks something that might end up being more valuable than any of the Chase Bridges. The Nets lit a fire under the Knicks.
The Knicks (4-13) were in a free fall, until discovering their full potential by moving the ball, hitting their open shots, giving Carmelo Anthony some much-needed help, and competing with attitude and fight.
Shumpert played inspired and looked like the second-best player on the floor. He finished with 17 points, 11 coming in a third quarter that saw the Knicks bury the Nets, 34-16.
Raptors fans probably wouldn't recognize the Bargnani that refused to back down to Garnett.
Bargnani was hit with his first technical when he and Garnett got tangled up. Bargnani was on the floor with Garnett standing above him, when the Italian uncharacteristically pulled on Garnett's shorts to keep the Nets forward in place, so he could stand up and get in Garnett's face.
The skirmish was quickly broken apart with 9:12 left in the fourth quarter, but Bargnani wasn't going to let Garnett bully him. Minutes later, Bargnani (16 points and three blocks) drilled a jumper to push the Knicks up 91-61, and he gave Garnett an earful on the trot to the other end. That prompted game official Joey Crawford to give Bargnani a second technical -- an ejection that was well worth it for the Knicks. Several of his teammates applauded Bargnani as he walked through the tunnel.
"I don't understand Italian," Garnett said later, when asked what Bargnani said.
However, Garnett didn't need Rosetta Stone to interpret the Knicks' body language. The 'Bockers were confident and didn't back down against their rivals. You could see the Knicks' confidence grow with each made jumper. The team sank 16 3-pointers, and the ball movement was crisp.
"From beginning to the end, it was like old times again," Woodson said. "Whoever got on the floor last year gave us something. And that's how it was tonight."
Melo didn't even need to do any heavy lifting. Anthony scored 19 points, grabbed 10 rebounds and you barely noticed. The Knicks cruised as six players scored in double digits. Shumpert drilled five 3-pointers, and the rest of the Knicks fed off Shumpert's energy.
"He looked like he had a chip on his shoulder," Anthony said. "I think everybody looked like they had that feeling like we were tired of losing. It showed from the tipoff."
Stoudemire scored 11 points and turned back the clock with a vintage rejection. And who knew Bargnani could trash talk -- and to Garnett no less?
The Knicks learned quite a bit about themselves on this trip across the bridge. And most importantly, they laid a blueprint for how to win.
Sure, the Nets gave the Knicks a major assist with their dreadful play. But the Knicks desperately needed a game like this for their confidence and ego. They went from being the "laughingstock" of the NBA to feeling good about themselves after winning a laugher.
Now comes the hard part: They have to keep this going, starting Friday against the Magic at home, where they've had so many letdowns. The Knicks could go from a losing streak to a winning streak with Orlando, Cleveland, Boston twice, a Derrick Rose-less Chicago team, Atlanta, Washington and Milwaukee in the next eight games.
The Knicks just need to keep playing like they did against the Nets.
"It was night and day," Anthony said of how the team played. "Tonight was like the way I know that we can play, the way that we know we can play."