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From ecstasy to agony

Ewing cancels key jumper with missed free throw

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Posted: Saturday May 13, 2000 01:16 AM

  Patrick Ewing Patrick Ewing hit only 4-of-10 field goals, but canned this 18-footer with 2.6 seconds left to force overtime. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- Patrick Ewing went from ecstasy at the end of regulation to agony in overtime.

Standing at the free-throw line with the score tied and 13.7 seconds left in an extra period he forced with a late basket, the New York Knicks center missed the first of his two foul shots. That left just enough room for the Miami Heat to sneak away with a 77-76 victory in Game 3 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Ewing looked each and every one of his 37 years at the foul line, as he did for much of the game, his back stiff, his feet shuffling.

His 1-for-2 showing on the free throws -- it was his only trip to the line of the game -- made the score 76-75 for New York, and when Miami's reserve guard Anthony Carter's miracle shot floated over the backboard and through the net with 2.2 seconds remaining, the Heat had a 2-1 edge in the series.

"It's very disappointing," Ewing said at his locker, wearing ice packs on both knees, his right wrist and left ankle. "We were right there. We just fell short. They made a tough shot."

He didn't make many all night, going 4-for-10 from the field, but made his lone basket of the fourth quarter count.

With the hosts down 68-66 and the game inside 30 seconds, the Knicks tried to get Allan Houston a shot. But when Houston received a pass on the wing and was immediately double-teamed, he swung the ball over the Ewing near the foul line.

As Heat center Alonzo Mourning jumped at him with an outstretched arm, Ewing calmly let fly an 18-foot jumper that cleanly slid through the hoop with 2.6 seconds left in regulation.

Ewing celebrated by holding his release and backpedaling all the way to the other end of the court with his right wrist held aloft as the sellout crowd roared.

He looked, well, young.

"That felt good," Ewing said, "especially with the fact that I was struggling almost the whole game. They gave me a good pass and I was able to hit the shot."

Ewing missed the first 20 games of the season with an Achilles' tendon injury, but he has started each of New York's outings since.

And while he was third on the team in scoring (averaging 15.2 points) and led the Knicks in rebounding (9.2) through the first five games of the postseason, he was not much of a factor Friday -- other than the two key plays.

Ewing finished with nine points, nine rebounds and three blocked shots in 40 minutes, but also had zero assists and four turnovers.

He was part of a general malaise on offense for both teams, who would have set a record for lowest-scoring NBA playoff game had the contest not gone into overtime.

"We've never done anything easy around here. We've always had to push it to the limit," Ewing said, pausing for several seconds between each phrase.

"We just have to pick ourselves up and get ready for Sunday."

That's when these familiar foes -- it's the fourth straight year they've met in the playoffs -- will play Game 4, and it's how much time Ewing has to stew over his errant free throw.


 
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