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1999 NBA Playoffs

Remember the Alamo

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Posted: Saturday June 19, 1999 02:22 AM

By Marty Burns, Sports Illustrated

SAN ANTONIO -- Remember the Alamo. Forget the Alamodome. That's the rallying cry for the New York Knicks now that they trail the San Antonio Spurs 2-0 in the NBA Finals. But unless the Knicks suddenly find a big man who can score, their chances of turning this series around in the Big Apple can be summed up in one word: Fuhgettaboutit. Some other thoughts from Game 2:

1. Tim Duncan is not only a great shooter, but he has a rare combination of strength and agility that allows him to play through some of the low-post contact that would knock other big men off balance. On one play in Game 2, he momentarily lost the ball in Knicks forward Marcus Camby's armpit while spinning toward the hoop but recovered in time to bank the ball in the basket. Even Duncan had to be surprised - but as usual he remained stone-faced as he headed back downcourt.

2. It wasn't at all odd the smaller Knicks enjoyed a 10-5 edge in offensive boards, helping them to a robust 82 field goal attempts (San Antonio had 63). Even with the Twin Towers, the Spurs actually ranked 28th of 29 teams during the regular season in offensive rebounds allowed. The reason: Their interior defense forces a lot of missed shots (more opportunities for rebounds), and they block a lot of shots (which are often retrieved by the shooting team).

3. Say this much for referee Joe Crawford: he's willing to do the dirty work. After Malik Rose lost his gum while driving to the hoop in the second quarter, Crawford bent over and picked up the wad during a timeout. He then asked Rose if he wanted it back (Rose declined) before throwing it away. Crawford did his part for the Knicks, too. In the first half he made two illegal defense rulings against the Spurs, the latter after New York coach Jeff Van Gundy had pointed out the infraction to him during a second-quarter timeout.

Check back before Game 3 for another edition of On the Court.

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