Dec 28, 2016; Atlanta, GA, USA; New York Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony (7) looks to pass while guarded by Atlanta Hawks forward Thabo Sefolosha (25) during the first half at Philips Arena. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

The Atlanta Hawks played host to the New York Knicks, and Carmelo Anthony decided to haul off on Thabo Sefolosha.

Was this provoked? Maybe. No one knows what was said, but surely the jokes will come out about Sefolosha making a Honey Nut Cheerios-related remark to Anthony.

Both the Knicks and the Hawks are fighting for position in a crowded Eastern Conference playoff race, so it’s only right for both squads to bring the intensity. Sefolosha, who has a reputation for being a hard-nosed defender, was routinely pressing Melo and, evidently, Anthony got fed up.

Officials slapped technicals fouls on both players but tossed Carmelo after deeming his foul a Flagrant 2. After all, it does look a bit excessive.

As players do, both sides were jawing at each other, and that’s what encouraged the referees to go back and review the play. I’m not a fan of the officials stopping play and going to look at the punch, but they’re looking out for the players’ safety. Clearly, Anthony made an attempt to hit Sefolosha.

Melo played just 15 minutes before hitting the showers and tallied ten points on 5-of-9 shooting.

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