Foul trouble dooms Knicks
Posted: Thursday June 17, 1999 01:08 AM
SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Right from the start, the opener of the NBA Finals turned complicated for the New York Knicks.
Whatever emotional lift injured Larry Johnson gave them by starting the game disappeared when he drew two quick fouls. In less than 2 1/2 minutes, he was on the bench and the body scramble had begun.
Marcus Camby, who had provided so much energy off the bench, also found himself with three fouls in almost no time. That forced coach Jeff Van Gundy to juggle his rotation of players, something the shorthanded Knicks couldn't afford.
Duncan dominated underneath, scoring 33 points and grabbing 16 rebounds. Robinson had 13 points, seven assists and nine rebounds.
In the second quarter, with Van Gundy shuffling players to protect them from more fouls, New York scored just 10 points, the second-fewest in any quarter of an NBA Finals game. Utah had nine in a game at Chicago on June 7, 1998. From a six-point first-quarter lead, New York fell eight points behind and couldn't recover.
Already struggling with a shortened bench because of Patrick Ewing's season-ending Achilles tear, the Knicks were down to an eight-man rotation against San Antonio -- nine counting 41-year-old Herb Williams, who rarely plays.
Johnson played just six minutes in the first half and had three fouls. Camby logged just nine minutes and also had three personals. Neither fouled out but that hardly mattered because the foul trouble limited their playing time and effectiveness.
The Knicks were simply running out of bodies, limited by the injuries and foul trouble. Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston were unable to get a break and, by the fourth quarter, the pace seemed to wear on them. Sprewell sat for just two minutes and Houston for five.
Now, New York is behind in a playoff series for the first time in this postseason. The Knicks had won the opener of each of the previous three series, largely because Van Gundy was able to manage the player rotation. He had no chance to do that Wednesday when the fouls piled up on him and the Knicks.
Copyright © 1999 CNN/SI. A Time Warner Company.
Terms under which this service is provided to you.