Allan Houston, Glen Rice and Latrell Sprewell led the Knicks to a convincing 104-82 victory over the San Antonio Spurs, but Camby spoiled the day when he attempted to attack Danny Ferry with a wild roundhouse right but instead injured his own coach.
With the Knicks putting the finishing touches on a blowout, Camby took exception to an errant elbow by Ferry to the face. While the referee tried to calm Camby, the Knicks center charged Ferry, who was near the scorer's table at midcourt, and unleashed a right hand.
Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy attempted to intercede, but absorbed the brunt of the blow. As Camby swung wildly and missed, he banged heads with Van Gundy, who fell to the court under the scorer's table bleeding profusely. Van Gundy was helped to his feet and covered the left side of his head with a towel as he walked off the court.
Van Gundy required 12-15 stitches near his left eye and joked about the incident afterwards.
"I know he (Camby) got the shot that everyone of them would like to get on me," Van Gundy said. "It didn't mar it. This was our best game of the year."
But while Van Gundy made light of the incident, Camby appears to be facing a long suspension for his actions.
"In all honesty, I didn't see it," Ferry said of Camby's swing. "I heard someone yell 'duck' and saw Van Gundy on the floor. You guys saw it."
Ferry inadvertently hit Camby in the eye with an elbow earlier in the fourth quarter, inciting Camby's ire.
"I went in for a rebound. I lost my balance and fell back and hit him inadvertently," Ferry said. "It was an unfortunate thing."
Camby did not speak to the media after the game, but Sprewell and Kurt Thomas defended their teammate.
"It's hard to be calm when a guy hits you with elbows twice," Sprewell said.
"They (Ferry and Camby) were getting into it all game," Thomas said. "I guess he just lost it. You can only take so much."
Along with dampening his team's impressive win, Camby overshadowed his own stellar defensive play against Spurs center David Robinson. He had six blocks and Robinson hit just 1-of-11 shots from the field, finishing with two points.
"If I don't have a good game, it can be a bad day for us," Robinson said. "We just made too many mistakes. We just got to do better."
Houston scored 19 of his 31 points in the first half when the Knicks opened a 54-39 lead.
Rice had 20 points and Sprewell added 19 for the Knicks, who won for the ninth time in their last 10 games, completed a series sweep of the Spurs and improved to 13-2 on Martin Luther King Day. The most memorable of those came in January 1990 when Trent Tucker hit a winning basket with one-tenth of a second left against Chicago.
Unfortunately, this one will be remembered for Camby's inexplicable swing and not for New York's sterling performance against another Western Conference power.
"It's tough to talk about. I've been in this situation before," said Knicks guard Chris Childs, who could have been referring to New York's brawl in the 1997 playoffs against Miami which resulted in suspensions. "Unfortunately, it had to end this way."
Two days after ending Portland's 10-game winning streak, the Knicks were too quick for San Antonio from the perimeter and successfully bottled up Robinson and Tim Duncan inside.
Duncan had 14 points and 10 rebounds, none off the offensive boards, and missed all seven of his free throw attempts.
Meanwhile, behind Houston, Rice and Sprewell, the Knicks shot 55 percent from the field. Houston converted 11-of-20 shots, including three 3-pointers. Rice was 8-of-13 and Sprewell hit 9-of-13 shots.
"We're just starting to be who we think we can be," Houston said. "We continue to improve."
Houston scored 11 of his points in the first quarter and started the second with a 3-pointer and a basket, giving the Knicks a 27-19 lead.
"We started the game with gross defense and that set the tone for the whole game," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, who was ejected in the third quarter after receiving two technicals.
Rice scored 10 of New York's next 12 points, but the Spurs pulled within 39-34 on a jumper by Duncan with 4:25 to play in the half. But the Knicks scored the next six points on a corner jumper and a layup by Sprewell and a dunk by Camby, increasing the lead to 45-34.
After Derek Anderson converted a 3-pointer for San Antonio, Houston answered with a 3-pointer to restore New York's 11-point lead. Duncan scored inside, but the Knicks closed the half with a pair of baskets by Thomas and a jumper by Sprewell.
Larry Johnson and Sprewell started the second half with baskets, opening a 58-39 lead.
The Spurs pulled no closer than 14 the rest of the way.
A 3-pointer by Charlie Ward started a 13-3 run to close the quarter, giving New York a commanding 85-61 lead.
New York led by as many as 24 points on two occasions in the fourth quarter.
The loss ended a 2-2 road trip for the Spurs.
Ira Newble and Antonio Daniels each scored 14 for San Antonio.