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Face the Facts: Knicks finding life begins at 30
Posted: Tuesday June 22, 1999 07:39 PM
By Ryan Hunt, CNN/SI
It's called the charity stripe. Appropriately enough, it has helped to give the New York Knicks a new life in the NBA Finals.
New York may have discovered something in its 89-81 Game 3 victory over San Antonio on Monday. The Knicks' magic number may very well be 30.
The Knicks got to the free-throw line 30 times in Game 3, making 23 free throws (76.7 percent). In the first two games combined, New York went only 24 of 31 from the line.
However, when the Knicks have shot at least 30 free throws in a game this season, they are 14-3 -- including a 6-1 mark in the playoffs. When they have shot 29 or fewer foul shots, the Knicks are 25-26.
Allan Houston was the biggest benefactor from the line in Game 3. Houston, who has yet to miss a free throw in the Finals, scored 12 of his 34 points from the line Monday.
In the first two games, he totaled six free throws. And in Game 2, Houston was one of only two Knicks to even make a free throw.
However, the free-throw disparity is not a new trend for the Knicks.
In the regular season, New York averaged 24.36 free-throw attempts per game, which was only good enough for 20th in the NBA.
But in the Knicks' 27 regular-season wins, they averaged 3.3 more attempts a game from the line than they did in their 23 losses.
That doesn't seem like much, until you consider that the Knicks lost six games in the regular season by three points or less. In those six losses, they didn't hit the "magic 30" a single time.
And, oh yeah, six games was the margin that separated New York from the top of the Eastern Conference standings.
In the playoffs, meanwhile, the margin is up to 4.7 more free throws a game in the Knicks' wins compared to their losses.
Not coincidentally, New York has attempted at least 30 free throws in each of its last four playoff wins.
As the Knicks are finding out, they don't call it the charity stripe for nothing.
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