Work in Sports
Knicks play dead then rally to take 2-0 series lead
Posted: Thursday April 27, 2000 02:43 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- Latrell Sprewell took Vince Carter one-on-one, and Carter took a pass on taking the last shot.
Sprewell outdid Carter down the stretch Wednesday night, scoring 13 of New York's final 17 points -- including the game-winner with 7.9 seconds left -- as the Knicks came back from a 14-point, fourth quarter deficit to beat Toronto 84-83.
Carter had a chance to take the final shot, and he planned to put it up when he left his feet from 25 feet away with three seconds left. But at the last second, he changed his mind and passed to Dee Brown for an open 3-pointer from the wing.
The shot was long, and the Knicks rebounded and walked off with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.
"I was feeling confident, but looking out of the corner of my eye, Dee was wide open," Carter said. "He's a great shooter, and you take your chances."
Sprewell finished with 25 points and combined with Larry Johnson to score 21 of the Knicks' final 25. Game 3 is Sunday in Toronto.
Carter rebounded from his ghastly 3-for-20 effort in Game 1 and led the Raptors with 27 points, but he was unable to stop Sprewell man-to-man on defense as New York kept running the same play in the final few minutes.
On the deciding play, Sprewell got the ball isolated on the right wing against Carter -- playing with five fouls -- and drove to his right, pulling up in the lane for a short jumper that gave the Knicks their first lead since the second minute of the game.
"I'm sitting there with the ball in my hands with about 14 seconds left, looking at the clock and looking at the defense and seeing if they were going to double-team or leave me single covered," Sprewell said. "With about nine seconds left, I saw they weren't coming.
"He left me the middle, and I wasn't settling for the jumper. I was going to the basket."
With teammates hugging him at midcourt while Toronto called timeout, Sprewell pleaded with them to play defense, yelling, "One stop!"
The Raptors were able to inbound to Carter, who won four games during the regular season with buzzer-beating shots. But his in-air decision to pass to Brown turned out to be the wrong one.
"I want the ball in that situation; I just didn't hit the shot," Brown said. "It was a good look, Vince gave me a good pass. It was make or break. If you make it, it's 1-1, but instead it's 0-2."
Johnson scored eight straight points for the Knicks midway through the fourth quarter to help cut a 14-point deficit to three, and Sprewell scored New York's next 11 points on three jumpers -- including a 3-pointer -- and four foul shots to give the Knicks their first tie since early in the first quarter, 78-78.
Muggsy Bogues hit a 3-pointer from the corner with 1:33 left and Patrick Ewing dunked to make it 81-80 heading into the final minute. Carter and Allan Houston each hit a pair of free throws before Carter missed a 3-pointer with 25.6 seconds left and the Raptors leading 83-82.
Ewing had 19 points, Houston 12 and Johnson 11 for the Knicks, who got their act together in the fourth quarter after playing with a noticeable lack of intensity in the first three quarters to draw boos from the sellout crowd.
"We did not let them [come back]. That was not a gift. They earned it," Carter said.
Unlike Game 1, the Raptors looked relaxed in the opening quarter as they quickly took a comfortable lead. A dunk by Tracy McGrady made the score 20-11 as Toronto hit eight of its first 11 shots, and a layup by Kevin Willis at the buzzer gave the Raptors their first double-digit lead, 26-15.
The Knicks' problems got worse early in the second quarter as they committed six turnovers in the first three minutes and fell behind 32-17 on a jump hook by Willis. New York then found some of the defensive intensity that had been missing and held Toronto without a field goal for almost seven minutes.
A 3-pointer by Sprewell off an offensive rebound cut the Knicks' deficit to 36-34 with 1:04 left before halftime and got the crowd revved up for the first time, but Charles Oakley answered with a 3-pointer, Marcus Camby missed two foul shots and Carter hit a turnaround jumper to give Toronto a 41-34 lead at intermission.
Carter grabbed a loose ball under the basket and dunked it for a 48-37 lead early in the third, and a smattering of boos was heard when the Knicks called timeout with 8:03 left following a jumper by Antonio Davis that made it 50-37.
It was 67-55 entering the fourth and 69-55 after a jump hook by Willis before the Knicks began their comeback.
Now the Raptors have to try to become just the 13th team in NBA history to come back from an 0-2 deficit.
Was it, Sprewell was asked, a demoralizing loss for Toronto?
"It could be, and I hope that's the case," he said. "I'm getting tired of chasing Vince around."
Notes: There were 39 foul shots and 60 fouls in a game that took 2
hours, 47 minutes to play. ... Carter's mother slid a note under
his hotel door Wednesday morning telling him to keep his head up.
... Former Knicks guard John Starks attended the game, sitting
alongside comedian Whoopi Goldberg.