BasketBrawl: What Comes Next?

You've undoubtedly got questions about Saturday night's fight at Madison Square Garden.

We've got the first batch of answers for what happens next to the New York Knicks and Denver Nuggets after a brawl that resulted in five ejections for each team and, at least for the moment, diverts some attention away from the Nuggets' front-runner status in the Allen Iverson Sweepstakes.

How long will the league's leading scorer be suspended?

A punch -- whether or not it connects -- gets you an automatic one-game suspension.

The severity of Carmelo Anthony's penalty from there, and for all the main players in this fracas, is a case-by-case call by NBA commissioner David Stern and VP Stu Jackson. Whether punches land, where they land and who's responsible for escalation all factor in, as does leaving the bench to join in.

The footage you've seen puts at least five players in unquestioned trouble.

1. New York's Mardy Collins took J.R. Smith down with the initial hard, two-handed foul that can't be pardoned no matter how frustrated the Knicks were with what they perceived as Denver intentionally running up the score.

2. New York's Nate Robinson was the first to escalate the situation by wildly confronting Smith and other Nuggets.

3. Smith went after Robinson and the ensuing tangle spilled into a fan section, not far from where Knicks chairman James Dolan sits.

4. Anthony became the other chief escalator by throwing a right hook at Collins ... a punch that came just when things appeared to be settling down.

5. New York's Jared Jeffries went so hard chasing after 'Melo in response to the punch that Jeffries fell down and still had to be restrained when he got up.

The best early estimates: A minimum of five games for Anthony and Robinson ... and possibly longer. Suspensions for Collins, Smith and Jeffries would appear to be in the range of 1-to-3 games.

Don't forget, though, that Stern has been exerting his authority more than ever since the infamous Detroit-Indiana brawl at the Palace of Auburn Hills on Nov. 19, 2004. Keeping that in mind, it wouldn't be a shocker to see all of those estimates fall short.

The Nuggets and Anthony, of course, stand to lose the most from a lengthy suspension. Denver, at 13-9, is clinging to seventh in the Western Conference with roughly one-fourth of the season gone. Given Anthony's importance to the Nuggets -- he's averaging a league-best 31.6 points -- they'd likely feel fortunate to win any game he misses.

For 'Melo himself, this episode is bound to take a chunk out of his newfound darling status ... just days after he donated $1.5 million to fund a youth development center in his hometown of Baltimore. After a variety of setbacks in his first three pro seasons, Anthony was widely regarded as the standout performer on a Team USA squad that finished a disappointing third in last summer's World Championships in Japan and has been hailed in recent weeks for the increasing maturity in his game in terms of shot selection and leadership.

How much harsher will the penalties be because the fight crossed into fan territory?

It's a factor for sure.

Comparisons will inevitably be drawn to the Palace brawl, but that's not a correct comparison. This wasn't even close to that.

Fans at Madison Square Garden, for starters, were innocent bystanders Saturday night. At no point did we see intentional interaction between players and fans.

However ...

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