Yao Ming had tortured the Knicks last night. In more ways than one. It wasn’t just the 36 points. It was the five dunks and four lay-ins, and the way he would linger in the paint on the offensive end. All of it was too much for Isiah Thomas to take.

The Knick coach had complained to the officials that Yao should’ve been called on a number of three-second violations, but to no avail. Danny Crawford hit him with a ‘T”, then wasted no time in tossing him.

Afterward, a much more subdued Thomas explained his stance, after getting bounced 41 seconds into the fourth quarter, with the Rockets ahead 77-74.

“In the second quarter,” recounted Thomas, “I spoke with [Crawford] and asked if they could watch Yao in the lane. I also said that, if you are not going to call [a violation], would I need to get a technical foul to bring your attention to it?

“I wasn’t trying to get ejected. But, I was trying to get a technical, because I did want to bring it to [the officials’] attention.

“I was close enough to [Crawford’s] ear that he could hear me. I didn’t bump him, or anything like that. You can look at my reaction two ways –I could have been given a tech, or be thrown out of the game. I have shown, that I am not a guy who complains a lot. I just needed to make a point, because there was no way that we could guard Yao in the lane that long.”

Thomas paused briefly.

“Even out of the lane,” he joked, “we couldn’t guard him.”

Subsequently, Yao converted the ensuing free throw, fueling the Rockets’ 78-74 advantage, and the Knicks were effectively beaten after that.