N E W Y O R K, Jan. 16, 2001 -- With his eye swollen partially shut and abandage covering at least a dozen stitches, Jeff Van Gundy said hisdays as a peacemaker are over.
From the looks of him, it appears to be a wise career decision.
Van Gundy came out on the losing end of a collision Mondaybetween his head and Marcus Camby's after Camby threw a suckerpunch at Danny Ferry late in the fourth quarter of New York's104-82 victory over the San Antonio Spurs.
It was Van Gundy's first time in the middle of a dustup since hegrabbed hold of Alonzo Mourning's leg during a fight betweenMourning and Larry Johnson during the 1998 playoffs.
"I'm getting there," Van Gundy said. "Last time I got theirguy, this time I got my guy. Next time I'll stay the heck out ofthe way."
Van Gundy needed 12-15 stitches to close the cut over his eye.
Camby said he apologized to Van Gundy and his teammates on Monday, ESPN.com reported today (ESPN.com, like ABCNEWS.com, is owned by Walt Disney Co.)
Camby Faces Suspension
Camby, who faces a mandatory suspension under NBA rules forthrowing a punch, hung around the building for nearly an hourbefore finally being persuaded to leave. Only then did securityofficials allow Ferry to leave the locker room, escorting him tothe team bus.
"I'm sure he [Camby] would like to take it back," Spurs coachGregg Popovich said. "He's an intelligent guy."
David Robinson disagreed.
"It wasn't the smartest thing to do to hit his own coach,"Robinson said.
It was a strange ending to another dominant performance by theKnicks, who got 31 points from Allan Houston, 20 from Glen Rice and19 from Latrell Sprewell.
Winning for the ninth time in 10 games and holding theiropponent below 100 points for the 31st consecutive game, the Knickswere having one of their best all-around games of the season untillate in the fourth.
Waiting for Ferry After Game
Camby was poked in the eye by Ferry and was being restrained byhis teammates when he lunged after Ferry and threw a windmillpunch.
"He poked me in the eye, bloodied me up," Camby, stillemotional, told Johnson in the hallway outside San Antonio's lockerroom. "I wasn't going to hit him until I saw the blood in myeye."
The punch did not hit anybody, but Camby collided with Van Gundyas the coach jumped between them. Van Gundy stayed down for about aminute before getting up, blood dripping down his face.
"He got the shot in that every one of our players would like todo to me. He just got a free one," Van Gundy said.
After the game, Camby stood outside the San Antonio locker roomfor 10 minutes until Knicks officials — including president DaveChecketts, general manager Scott Layden, Johnson and severalsecurity officers — persuaded him to leave. Camby then wentdownstairs to the area where the Spurs' bus was idling and spentanother 20 minutes waiting for Ferry as team officials continued totry to calm him down.
"We were banging around the whole game," Ferry said. "I don'tremember doing anything to lead to something like that."
Camby Blocked Six Shots
Houston, Sprewell and Rice each shot over 50 percent while Cambyblocked six shots and grabbed 11 rebounds for the Knicks, who werecoming off a 15-point victory over the Portland Trail Blazers onSaturday.
"I thought that was our best game of the year," Van Gundysaid. "Our guys were really ready and that's what the focus shouldbe on."
Houston scored 11 points in the first quarter, including two3-pointers in the first 3:40, and the Knicks took their firstdouble-digit lead on an alley-oop dunk by Camby with 3:11 left inthe first half.
New York closed the second quarter with a 6-0 run to open a15-point lead, then played nearly flawlessly in the third. Cambyblocked four shots in the quarter, which ended with New Yorkholding an 85-61 lead.
Houston hit the first basket of the fourth, and the lead was upto 24 when a yo-yo was thrown on the court. Chris Childs of theKnicks picked it up and played with it before passing it off to areferee in what turned out to be the last lighthearted moment ofthe game.
Camby went after Ferry a few minutes later with the score 99-79.
David Robinson shot 1-for-11 from the field and Tim Duncan was0-for-7 from the foul line for the Spurs, who shot only 39percent.