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Donte DiVincenzo on altercation with Myles Turner: ‘They were trying to be tough guys’

Donte DiVincenzo’s message to Myles Turner and the Indiana Pacers?

You’re not as tough as you’re trying to make it seem.

That was the gist of the message DiVincenzo delivered in front of his locker after a mid-court altercation with Indiana’s starting center in the Knicks’ 30-point shellacking of the Pacers in Game 5 on Tuesday.

DiVincenzo soared through the air for a putback dunk to put the Knicks up 22 with four-and-a-half minutes left in the third quarter, and when he got back up the court on defense, Turner set a screen on him away from the ball.

DiVincenzo attempted to fight through the screen but ultimately got tangled with Turner, and the two exchanged heated words before a nearby official had to separate the two players.

The official’s attempt, however, failed, and DiVincenzo and Turner continued jawing with one another, with several of Turner’s teammates restraining him from continuing to pursue the Knicks guard.

“They were trying to be tough guys,” DiVincenzo said after the game. “That’s not their identity, and there was nothing more to that. I don’t agree with trying to walk up on somebody. Nobody’s gonna fight in the NBA. Take the foul, keep it moving. You’re not a tough guy, just keep it moving.”

Game 5 was one of the more physical games of this second-round series, a necessary prescription for a Knicks team that felt the Pacers attempted to assume their smash-mouth style of play.

After a 32-point loss to the Pacers in Game 4, the Knicks stuck it to the Pacers, out rebounding them, 53-29, and beating them to a large majority of 50-50 balls on the night.

“[We got back to] being ourselves,” said DiVincenzo. “They were talking, trying to be physical, basically trying to be our brand, our identity. And they were successful with it last game. And we regrouped, watched film and realized that’s not who we are. We came out tonight and that’s exactly who we are.”

The dust-up with Turner was one of two skirmishes DiVincenzo found himself a part of on Wednesday. On another play earlier in the game, Pacers center Isaiah Jackson was called for an illegal screen for launching his shoulder into DiVincenzo, only for Isaiah Hartenstein and Alec Burks to come to his defense.

“At the end of the day, they’re also family to me, so if something happens to them, it doesn’t matter what kind of situation it is: I’m always gonna stick up for them,” Hartenstein said after the game. “I mean, the last one, I was kinda hesitant because I didn’t want to get my second [technical foul], but in general, I think that’s what makes us stand up for each other.”

The Knicks faced a similar level of heightened physicality in the first round against the Philadelphia 76ers, who were left with little choice but to muck the series up when the Knicks took a commanding 3-1 series lead.

“There’s two teams that are just trying to move on,” said Jalen Brunson. “Regardless of what the situation is, there’s a lot of competitors out there. It is what it is. Obviously everyone wants to win. You don’t really think anything of it. We both want to win.”

Five players ended Game 5 with technical fouls: Turner and Jackson for the Pacers, and DiVincenzo, Burks and Hartenstein for the Knicks.

“For me I never really see [on-court altercations] and get riled up,” said Josh Hart. “I think we always have that and that’s just a side effect of coming out with energy and toughness and tenacity. So obviously we would have liked to not have some of the techs that we had, but that goes with the competitiveness and the toughness that we’re trying to bring.”


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