Knicks steal Game 1
N.Y. dodges Miller, earns sixth straight playoff win
Posted: Sunday May 30, 1999 11:27 PM
In the past, you couldn't ask for a better recipe for an Indiana victory.
This time, though, history didn't repeat itself in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals.
Ewing calmly made four straight free throws over the final 51 seconds and Miller missed a 3-pointer from his favorite spot with 15 seconds left Sunday as the New York Knicks defeated the Indiana Pacers 93-90.
"Reggie has killed us so many times by hitting the big 3s, and we started trapping him," Ewing said. "If someone was going to beat us, it was going to have to be someone else."
As they did in the first round against Miami and the second round against Atlanta, the Knicks wrested homecourt advantage away from their opponent in the first game of the series. Game 2 is Tuesday night at Market Square Arena.
In a physical, back-and-forth game, Miller had a chance to put the Pacers ahead when he freed himself along the baseline and got open at the 3-point line with 15 seconds left -- the same spot from which he hit two big 3-pointers in the 1995 playoffs and another Knick-killing 3-pointer in Game 3 of the second round last year.
"Well, he didn't hit it today," New York's Latrell Sprewell said.
The Knicks rebounded and went ahead 92-88 on two free throws by Chris Childs with 12.4 seconds left. Indiana had one more chance to tie after Childs made only one of two from the line with 6.5 seconds left, but Mark Jackson, his foot close to the 3-point line, shot an airball from the corner just before the final buzzer.
It was the team-record sixth straight playoff win for the Knicks, who got 19 points from Allan Houston, 16 each from Ewing and Sprewell and 15 from Larry Johnson. It was their fourth straight postseason road win.
The Pacers finished 3-for-9 from 3-point range.
"For the most part we guarded the 3-point line well, which is critical for us," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
The Knicks tied their season-low by committing eight turnovers and went 9-for-10 from the foul line over the final 93 seconds. Four of those makes were by Ewing, whose career has included numerous free throw misses in the closing moments of tight games.
"Every miss has been chronicled," Van Gundy said, "and every make has been overlooked."
Said Miller: "He made big free throws. We tried to do everything to ice him out there, and he made all net.
"I think he's been getting a lot of unwarranted criticism in New Yok, He's been the backbone of that team for so many years, and it seems he's always proving the media and the crowd wrong there."
Indiana trailed throughout the fourth quarter until Smits hit a jump hook with 4:42 left, just his second basket of the game, to tie it 78-all. Miller hit a 3-pointer 40 seconds later after the Knicks had gone back up by one.
Sprewell missed a jumper on the Knicks' next possession and argued that a foul should have been called, and Smits hit a jumper from 15 feet to make it 83-79. Childs answered with a 3-pointer, but Smits hit a turnaround and two free throws to bump the lead back to five before New York scored the next six points to go ahead 88-87.
Jackson tied the game by making one of two free throw with 31 seconds left, and Ewing put the Knicks up 90-88 by swishing two in a row from the line with 29 seconds left.
That set the stage for Miller to put the Pacers ahead, but it wasn't to be.
"I felt it was a good look, it was a simple motion play, trying to run Allan through a series of picks," Miller said. "Like I said, I got a good look at it. That's basically all you want."
The Knicks started running from the moment Sprewell entered the game. Sprewell had a steal and fast-break layup, then pushed the ball upcourt and fed Johnson for a 3-pointer that gave the Knicks their first lead, 16-13, and the lead would grow to nine before Indiana pulled to 25-21 at the end of one quarter.
The Knicks went more than five minutes without a point to start the second quarter, and Indiana took a brief lead on a jumper by Rose that made it 26-25 with 7:48 left. Sprewell scored on another fast break, putting New York ahead 29-28, and the Knicks stayed in front until Chris Mullin scored his first basket of the game early in the third.
Indiana then held the lead until shortly after Sprewell checked back into the game, and Sprewell had six points over the final 4:49 of the quarter as the Knicks closed with a 17-8 run to take a 70-63 lead into the fourth.
Notes: Both coaches employed some interesting defensive matchups. Van Gundy started Kurt Thomas on Smits, while Indiana's Larry Bird used Miller to guard the 6-foot-11 Marcus Camby. ... Jackson and Van Gundy shook hands before the opening tipoff, just as they have often done in previous Pacers-Knicks games. Van Gundy was an assistant coach in New York when Jackson played for the Knicks. ... Thomas and Smits drew double technical fouls for taking swipes at each other after a physical exchange midway through the third quarter. ... Thomas had a strong game with eight points and eight rebounds. Ewing had 10 rebounds.
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