NEW YORK -- Enes Kanter and LeBron James went chest-to-chest in a shouting match during a high-intensity game, and they continued their two-day war of wars afterward.
After the Knicks blew a 23-point lead and lost to LeBron and the Cavaliers, 104-101, at Madison Square Garden, Kanter addressed the first-quarter incident in which Knicks rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina shoved James and Kanter then jumped into the fray by barking at James.
"I don't care who you are, what you call yourself, King, Queen, Princess, whatever you are," said Kanter, who notched 20 points and 16 rebounds in the loss. "You know what, we gonna fight and nobody out there gonna punk us."
Told of Kanter's latest comments, James laughed and quipped, "I'm the King, my wife is the Queen and my daughter is the princess, so we got all three covered."
Asked what happened during his incident with Ntilikina and Kanter, James just said, "Nothing. Nothing, we got the win. I'm not going to get...I'm not even going to say that guy's name."
The war of words began Saturday night when James was perceived to have taken a shot at Ntilikina by saying Dennis Smith Jr. "should be a Knick." The Knicks let Smith Jr. slide to the Dallas Mavericks at No. 9 and took Ntilikina at No. 8 in the NBA Draft.
During shoot around before Monday's game, James clarified that he was talking about Phil Jackson's failure to draft Smith Jr., and wasn't taking a shot at the "French Prince."
Kanter immediately defended his teammate on Saturday and went after James on Twitter. He then doubled-down after practice Sunday. And did so yet again after Monday's loss, this time in reference to what happened on the court.
"You can't just mess with a rookie like that," Kanter said. "If you're going to mess with someone, go mess with a grown man. I'll bat for my teammates. Whatever happens, I have my teammate's back."
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said he was glad to see Ntilikina stand up to James.
"That's good for a young kid to stand up to the best player in the league," he said. "He had his teammates backing him up so that was great."
Had the Knicks not blown the lead behind a barrage of Kyle Korver three-pointers during a fourth quarter in which the Cavs outscored the Knicks, 43-25, the Knicks would've notched their second win over Cleveland this season.
Instead, the Knicks fell to 7-6 and the Cavs improved to 6-7.
Still, James says he's impressed with the Knicks' progress.
"They're playing some good basketball," James said before adding yet another dig at Jackson. "I think Jeff Hornacek is finally, with the release of the Old Fella, Hornacek is finally allowed to implement what he wants to do on a team and it's very effective."
These teams don't meet again until April, so stay tuned.
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