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1999 NBA Playoffs

Mr. Clutch

Houston's 3 saves Knicks

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Posted: Tuesday June 22, 1999 01:12 AM

  Houston, we don't have a problem: Allan Houston scored 34 points, which included a perfect 12-for-12 from the line. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- One second to go on the shot clock was plenty of time for Allan Houston.

With the New York Knicks going through one of their patented shooting droughts, Game 3 of the NBA Finals seemed ready to swing San Antonio's way on Monday night.

But what may have been the biggest three of Houston's 34 points started the Knicks on the way to an 89-81 victory.

The Knicks had missed 12 straight shots, and were on their way to an unlucky 13 in the third quarter. This is a team that went 1-for-19 during one distressing stretch of Game 2 so the possibilities were frightening. What once had been a 14-point lead was down to no lead at all with the Spurs tying the game at 58-58.

Now, the shot clock was running down and New York was searching frantically for a shot, any shot. The Knicks nearly wound up with no shot at all.

The ball squirted loose and another New York possession seemed doomed. Then, somehow, Kurt Thomas got it into Houston's hands.

Coach Jeff Van Gundy had talked Monday about New York's inability to get the ball in the right place at the right time. With Houston hot, this was certainly where the Knicks needed it at that point.

With one slim second left to shoot, Houston lofted a 3-pointer from 24 feet that found nothing but net.

"It was a hustle play," Houston said. "Kurt had a series of hustle plays on offensive rebounds. That's the nature of the team. That's what happens when you keep digging in there."

"That was big for them," San Antonio's Tim Duncan said. "We played hard throughout the whole possession and Allan came up big for them. He played an awesome game tonight."

The tie game evaporated. Suddenly, with 3:05 left in the period, the Knicks were three points ahead again and this time they stayed in front.

"Allan has shown an ability to make critical shots for us down the stretch of games," Van Gundy said. "That's a rare quality in this league."

The Knicks scored just 16 points in the period and Houston had 13 of them. The 34 points matched his career playoff-high and included a perfect 12-for-12 from the foul line.

None of his 10 baskets, though, was as vital as the 3-pointer that stopped the third quarter dry spell and got the Knicks moving again.

"It's ironic," Houston said. "When I first came in the league, all I did was shoot 3s. I've been able to get to the basket, but I'm still not passing up the 3. I missed two or three in the first half. That wide open one feels good to make."

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich was asked to describe Houston's night. "He was a pain in the neck," he said.

The Knicks guard liked that.

"I hope to be a pain in the neck all the time," he said.

 
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