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1999 NBA Playoffs

The Professor's new course

Revived Hardaway sends Heat streaking past Knicks

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Posted: Saturday May 15, 1999 05:09 PM

  The Hardaway: It couldn't go anything less than five, with Tim Hardaway and Miami battling their bitter New York rivals. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Patrick Ewing sat all alone at his locker, a look of dejection on his face so strikingly similar to his glassy gaze of playoffs past.

"We messed up. We messed up," Ewing said.

Just six words, but no others could have said it better.

The Knicks were thoroughly outclassed in the fourth quarter Friday night of what could have been their clinching game, dropping an 87-72 decision to the Miami Heat that forces a Game 5 in the first-round series Sunday.

It will be the third do-or-die game in as many years for the two teams, but for the first time, everyone will be at full strength.

"Without a doubt, the Knicks have been somewhat of a nemesis to us, other than the Bulls, and in adverse situations we've learned to come together, believe in ourselves and find a way to win," center Alonzo Mourning said. "We showed that this evening, but all it guaranteed us was a trip back to Miami."

With Tim Hardaway finding his scoring touch, Alonzo Mourning shutting down Patrick Ewing and Miami's bench giving it a sorely needed boost, the Heat staved off elimination Friday night by defeating New York 87-72.

So now it's back to Miami Arena, site of so many memorable playoff moments from this fierce rivalry.

"I don't think we'll have any advantage," Miami's Dan Majerle said. "Homecourt hasn't meant anything in this series. Sunday is going to be an all-out war."

Unlike 1997, when several Knicks were suspended for fighting, and unlike 1998, when Mourning was banned from the building after another fight, the teams will have all their weapons when they go at each other this time.

"It's only befitting that we have to go through the series this way," Mourning said.

The Heat also will go into the deciding game with a fresh dose of confidence, knowing they were able to manhandle the Knicks at Madison Square Garden in the fourth quarter of what could have been New York's clincher.

Miami outscored New York 29-10 over the final 12 minutes.

Low blows
The lowest point totals by one team in a half in NBA playoff history since the 24-second shot clock was instituted for the 1954-55 season:
23 - x-Utah at Chicago, June 7, 1998 (second half)
24 - Portland at Utah, May 5, 1996 (first)
25 - Detroit at Atlanta, May 10, 1999 (second)
27 - Philadelphia at Orlando, May 11, 1999 (first)
27 - Atlanta at Detroit, May 12, 1999 (first)
27 - Philadelphia vs. Boston, May 21, 1982 (second)
28 - Los Angeles at Milwaukee, April 7, 1974 (first)
28 - San Antonio vs. Portland, May 7, 1993 (second)
28 - Minnesota vs. San Antonio, May 13, 1999 (first)
28 - New York vs. Miami, May 14, 1999 (second)
x - NBA Finals

Hardaway had his highest scoring game of the series with 14 points, including a 3-pointer that put Miami ahead for good with 7:54 left. Mourning had 16 points and 13 rebounds and held Ewing to three points and one rebound in the second half.

The biggest boost, by far, for Miami was the contributions of bench players Terry Porter, Clarence Weatherspoon and Voshon Lenard.

"There's a big difference between tonight and just 48 hours ago," Heat coach Pat Riley said.

Porter had 16 points, shooting 5-for-6, Weatherspoon had 14 points and six rebounds and Lenard added 10 points, shooting 4-for-6.

Weatherspoon and Porter combined for eight of Miami's first 13 points of the fourth quarter when the game turned decisively for the Heat. By the time the final buzzer sounded, more than half the crowd had given up and left the building.

"We lost our poise, played frustrated and got run over like they got run over in Games 1 and 3. These are very atypical type games," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said.

The fourth quarter began with New York leading 62-58, but the Heat quickly tied it on baskets by Weatherspoon and Lenard.

Hardaway gave the Heat their first lead since the second quarter on a 3-pointer with 7:54 left that made it 67-64, and it as 71-66 2 1/2 minutes later when Porter found Hardaway open again at the 3-point line.

"We really got embarrassed in Game 3," Porter said. "We tried to come out with an edge and we came out with an edge, and our bench just stepped up when it needed to." The Knicks shot just 2-for-13 from the field in the final quarter with five turnovers. Miami, on the other hand, was 9-of-15 from the floor.

The Heat led 33-26 before Ward hit a 3-pointer, and another 3 by Ward tied the game at 37-all with 3:05 left in the first half. Larry Johnson added a 3-pointer and a put-back at the buzzer to give New York a 44-40 halftime lead.

Ward led the Knicks with 10 points at the break, while Mourning had just five and Hardaway eight for the Heat. Porter and Lenard kept Miami in it by combining to shoot 5-for-5 for 12 points.

Notes: Former Knick John Starks attended his second straight game, this time sitting courtside with Spike Lee in the seat often used by Lee's wife. ... Referee Joey Crawford to Miami assistant Stan Van Gundy: "I haven't heard that line since grammar school," after Van Gundy told him he could "call it both ways." ... Ward suffered a cut near his eye during the third quarter, and Childs bruised his thigh. When Ward picked up his fifth foul early in the fourth quarter, seldom-used Rick Brunson became New York's playmaker. ... Mourning stopped wearing his protective goggles midway through the third quarter.

Related information
Knicks run Heat out of Madison Square Garden
Heat-Knicks Game Summary
Tim Hardaway awakens from his playoff slumber to take the Knicks to a Game 5 for the third straight year.
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