Thomas, Knicks fan differ

The Baltimore Sun

Coach Isiah Thomas was repeatedly asked yesterday about a season-ticket holder's claim after the New York Knicks' loss to the Dallas Mavericks on Monday that the coach scolded fans near the bench for not being more supportive of the team. Thomas acknowledged that perhaps there was a discussion.

"I think I said to the refs, too, I said to the ref, 'If [the Mavericks] let us hang around and we can scrap our way back into the game, we'll have a chance to win it,' " Thomas said after practice. "And I think I may have said that to one of the fans sitting there. 'If we just hang around in this game and we keep fighting, we'll have a shot of winning it.'

"I don't recall being combative. I think everything I've tried to say here has been pretty positive about what the fans want."

Thomas' account differs from the one that Mara Altschuler, a fan sitting near the Knicks' bench, gave to reporters after Monday night's game. She said Thomas told fans that they were a poor "sixth man" for the team.

The Knicks (6-14) have the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference and entered the season after a former team executive filed a sexual-harassment lawsuit. Madison Square Garden and Thomas reached an $11.5 million settlement with her Monday, and commissioner David Stern announced yesterday that there would be no league punishment.

Celtics -- Center Kendrick Perkins said part of his bed fell on his right big toe Monday night and he might miss the Celtics' game tonight against the Kings. It would be the first time Boston has altered its starting five this season. He is averaging 7.3 points and 4.8 rebounds.

Raptors -- Forward Jorge Garbajosa underwent surgery on his fractured left leg and will be off it for at least 10 weeks. No timetable has been set for Garbajosa's return.

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