One win away
Knicks know knockout Friday means NBA Finals
Posted: Thursday June 10, 1999 06:34 PM
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) -- Marcus Camby kept playing above the rim, dunking, blocking shots and rebounding with boundless energy. Latrell Sprewell kept going to the basket, juking and jittering like the All-Star he used to be.
The two Knicks newcomers, rookies to the rivalry with the Indiana Pacers, put on a performance that left Patrick Ewing screaming in the back hallways of Market Square Arena and moving New York within one victory of the NBA Finals with a 101-94 victory Wednesday night.
It gave the Knicks a 3-2 lead in the Eastern Conference finals and a chance to win the series at home Friday night in Game 6.
"Everybody was writing us off and saying we wouldn't make the playoffs, but we beat Miami in the first round, swept Atlanta and now we have an opportunity to do something special," Camby said. "We hung close the whole game and when we got the lead, we didn't let up."
The Knicks played with endless intensity and, undaunted by an early 14-point deficit, put together one of their best all-around games of this postseason.
Camby came off the bench to provide 21 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks in his third straight strong performance, while Sprewell took the ball to the hoop with a vengeance and scored 29.
"I hadn't played the way I was capable," Sprewell said, "so it was a breakout game for me and it came at a perfect time."
Along with 19 points from Allan Houston, 17 points from Larry Johnson, 10 from Kurt Thomas and a season-low seven turnovers, the Knicks got just enough from everybody to come away with a crucial victory in the pivotal game of the series.
New York also overcame Reggie Miller's best game of the series, a 30-point outing offset by a below-average effort by Indiana's bench, which scored just 15 points.
"For some reason, some of our guys just didn't come and play," Pacers coach Larry Bird said. "It's too bad for us that some guys are confident while some guys talk it but can't walk it."
"Our bench really wasn't there," Bird said. "We got absolutely nothing out of it."
This was a night when the Knicks could have come apart after Indiana outscored them 28-14 in the first quarter. Instead, New York came back to outscore Indiana 28-14 in the second.
Sprewell kept the Knicks in the game in the third quarter when coach Jeff Van Gundy kept Camby on the bench to keep him from picking up his fourth foul. Camby played superbly in the fourth as New York took the lead for good with 5:55 left and went 10-for-12 from the foul line in the final 1:44 to stay comfortably ahead.
Minutes after the final buzzer, Ewing -- out for the season with a torn Achilles' tendon -- was hobbling through the bowels of the building and screaming.
It was the third victory in this series for the road team, and the Knicks improved to 6-2 away from Madison Square Garden this postseason. A big reason was the revival of their transition game as they scored 18 fast-break points to Indiana's two.
"He got to the basket and the free throw line, which is critical for us," Van Gundy said of Sprewell, who didn't get to the line at all in Game 4 after being inserted into the starting lineup. He went 13-of-14 from the line in this game.
It was a one-point game before Johnson hit consecutive 3-pointers with 3:38 and 2:49 left. Camby scored on a layup to make it 91-84 with 2:14 left, and Indiana tried to play catchup the rest of the way.
Miller had a 3-pointer and Smits a dunk, cutting the deficit to four each time, and the game went into the final minute with the Knicks ahead 93-89.
From there, Sprewell (7-for-8), Johnson (2-for-2) and Houston (1-for-2) closed things out from the free throw line and sent the Pacers' faithful heading to the exits well before the final buzzer.
"For us, it's a one-game season," Miller said. "It's going to be electric in there, a fantastic atmosphere, and personally I'm looking forward to it."
With the way things were going early on, it seemed the Pacers might make quick work of the Knicks. Indiana opened with a 9-0 run and, after letting New York come back with a 10-0 run, finished the quarter with spurts of 13-2 and 6-0 for a 28-14 lead.
The Knicks came right back by scoring eight of the first 10 points of the second quarter, extending that run to 18-7 on two free throws by Sprewell with 4:01 left that pulled the Knicks to 35-32.
Coach Jeff Van Gundy then took a risk by leaving Houston in the game despite three fouls, and the Pacers became bogged down on offense trying to draw Houston's fourth. Six straight points by Camby, ending on a three-point play with 2:34 left, gave the Knicks a 38-37 lead before the teams went to the locker rooms tied 42-42.
Indiana led for most of the third quarter, with its biggest advantage at 67-61 after Miller scored eight straight Pacers points. Rose scored on a nifty drive to the basket with five seconds left in the third to give the Pacers a 69-65 heading into the fourth.
Indiana led 77-72 before Sprewell, Camby and Johnson hit consecutive shots for the Knicks, giving New York a 78-77 edge with 7:10 left. The Pacers led only one more time the rest of the way.
Notes: Dale Davis tied a career playoff high with 18 rebounds for the Pacers, who had a 43-37 edge on the boards. ... Filmmaker and Knicks fan Spike Lee traveled to the game, sitting behind New York's bench amid a crowd of rabid Pacers fans. ... In response to the abuse the Knicks took in Games 1 and 2, when beer and coins were tossed at them, there was a noticeable increase in security.
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