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Controversy lingers over game-winner

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Posted: Saturday May 13, 2000 07:18 PM

  Alonzo Mourning Latrell Sprewell, Alonzo Mourning and Allan Houston could only watch as Carter sank the controversial shot. AP

NEW YORK (AP) -- The debate over Anthony Carter's game-winning shot from behind the backboard raged anew on Saturday.

Of course, the New York Knicks still believe the basket should have been waved off, and the Miami Heat still insist it was good as called.

Rule No. 8, Section II, Paragraph b. states that "any ball that rebounds or passes behind the backboard, in either direction, from any point is considered out of bounds."

Carter's shot with 2.2 seconds left did indeed float behind the backboard before it arched over the top, but the referees ruled that the ball crossed the top corner of the backboard on an angle and therefore remained in play.

"I don't know what they're griping about," Miami's Tim Hardaway said. "Good shot, game over with, everybody deal with it."

After viewing the replay from several different angles and hearing the referees' explanation, Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy would not back off his statements of Friday night that the basket should have been nullified.

"I stand by what I said. But I'm also not looking back; I'm looking forward to getting ready for tomorrow. There's no point in looking back," he said.

In the early 1960s, the NBA instituted the over-the-backboard rule in response to the way Wilt Chamberlain was dominating the game. As a rookie with Philadelphia in 1959-60 when he averaged 37.6 points, Chamberlain often scored on inbounds passes from the baseline when a teammate would simply lob the ball over the backboard.

The league also widened the lane and outlawed offensive goaltending and running starts on free throws in an effort to deter Chamberlain's dominance.

"Those are all the 'Wilt Rules,'" said Philadelphia 76ers statistician Harvey Pollack, an NBA employee for 53 years and a witness to Chamberlain's 100-point game. "To understand the mind-set of the league office at the time, you'd have to be a master psychologist."

Whether it was technically legal or not, Carter's shot gave the Heat a 2-1 lead in the best-of-seven series heading into Sunday's Game 4.

Miami improved to 4-4 at Madison Square Garden in playoff games over the past four seasons, giving the Heat a .500 record to go along with their 6-6 home record against the Knicks in the postseason.

"I think anybody who's an intelligent viewer who's been watching for years knows it was a no-call. Whether or not it crossed barely or whatever, the game's over," Riley said. "We're up 2-1, the home-court advantage doesn't mean anything. We're moving on to Game 4; they can lament that all they want."

Carter's miracle shot wouldn't have happened if Riley hadn't had the faith to stick with the rookie, who played the entire overtime period and most of the fourth quarter instead of Hardaway, who was hobbled by a sprained foot and scored only one point.

"A.C. was playing so well that I didn't want to take him out. I don't want to hurt the team by playing someone who's hurt, and I've done that before in my career," Riley said. "Tim never hurts the team, but we have to be realistic about his injury. Last night it was very sore."

Hardaway said he would play in Game 4, and Riley said he was leaning toward starting him.

After putting his team through a 2-hour, 15-minute practice, Riley said he was concerned with his team's mental state. Not wanting them to be satisfied with winning Game 3, he said they needed to make an attitude adjustment sometime Saturday night or Sunday morning.

"I'm tired of having the advantage and giving it back, winning and then relaxing and thinking we've got something. I'm tired of players' attitudes about 'OK, we got a leg up on them and tomorrow we're going to come back and not play with the same kind of ferocity.'

"Somewhere we've got to be men and step up and put some big-time pressure on this team. That's what our opportunity is tomorrow."

Carter, meanwhile, ran across a few Knicks fans after the game who teased him about the shot.

"They told me, 'Merry Christmas,' 'lucky shot,' stuff like that. But I'll take it. I didn't tell them that, but I'll take it."

Related information
SI's Marty Burns: Carter's controversial shot sets Knicks' karma in balance
Ewing goes from ecstasy to agony
Carter's heroics lift Heat in overtime
Homecourt may not mean advantage for Knicks
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