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Problems aplenty

Knicks look to rebound after miserable Game 5

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Posted: Thursday May 18, 2000 08:45 PM

  Alonzo Mourning, Patrick Ewing Patrick Ewing and the Knicks will try to pick up the pieces and use home court advantage to force a seventh game. Eliot Schechter/Allsport

NEW YORK (AP) -- Marcus Camby pulled off what might have been his best move of the Heat-Knicks series Thursday, bolting through the gymnasium doors and speeding down a stairwell after practice without a single word of explanation for his miserable Game 5.

Patrick Ewing exited silently, too, while Allan Houston at least admitted that he took himself out of the game by not being aggressive enough.

Coach Jeff Van Gundy was disgusted with the whole bunch of them as the New York Knicks, trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven series against Miami, tried to recover from their 87-81 loss Wednesday in Game 5 and figure out a way to get even in Game 6 Friday night.

To the coach, it comes down to one simple word: rebounding.

"Get the ball," Van Gundy said. "Very simple. Hit somebody and go get the ball."

Of all the blame that could be ferreted out among the individual Knicks for the loss, the sore spots that stuck out were Camby shooting 1-for-6 and fouling out in 23 minutes, Houston taking only two shots in the second half and Chris Childs, when he wasn't arguing on the court with Ewing, not having a single assist in 17 minutes.

"Right now, I have no choice but to make something happen," Houston said.

The biggest single collective problem was the one Van Gundy kept coming back to -- the fact that the Knicks have been outrebounded in all five games by a Heat team that is winning the series by exerting the greater effort.

"I said before this series that whoever fights for the ball hardest will win, and they have fought harder and that's why they're up 3-2," Van Gundy said. "If you can't get a rebound, you've got to keep someone from getting a rebound. If you're not doing either, then you've got problems. And that's why we've got big problems right now."

Miami grabbed 11 offensive rebounds to New York's five in Game 5, repeatedly getting second chances to score.

Another problem down the stretch for the Knicks was defense, with the slow-footed Dan Majerle, after hitting two clutch 3-pointers, driving around Latrell Sprewell to feed a pass to the wide-open Bruce Bowen for a 3-pointer that turned it into a six-point game with 35 seconds left.

On offense, Sprewell tried to carry the team by himself in the fourth quarter as none of the other Knicks could get going.

"The offense wasn't the problem. Allan not scoring was not the problem," Van Gundy said. "We shot 47 percent with seven turnovers. That's not the problem. The problem is we have to play efficiently as a team. Everybody wants to point the finger at one guy. Allan's had good games in this series. Offensively he's had tough games. Same as everybody else on our team."

No one, however, has had as many ineffective games as Camby, who has missed layups, been banged around by the Heat's heavier forwards and has been nowhere near the type of factor he was in last year's playoffs when the Knicks reached the NBA Finals.

Camby is shooting just 11-for-31 in the series, while starting power forward Larry Johnson has been outrebounded 8-5 on the offensive glass by Anthony Carter, the Heat's backup point guard.

Rebounding "was our No. 1 priority going into the series," Heat coach Pat Riley said Thursday. "I thought that's what got us beat last year. It's the willful force of the big men that we're not going to let their big men hurt us. It's a key stat, but it's a hustle stat."

Neither the Knicks nor the Heat have been able to string together consecutive postseason victories in this rivalry since the final two games of the 1998 series.

"We would really feel good about ourselves if we did finish it on their home court for the simple fact they finished us off the past two years on our home court," Heat center Alonzo Mourning said.

Of the 100 previous best-of-seven series that have been tied 2-2, the team that won Game 5 has gone on to win the series 84 times.

"We're very aware of that," Sprewell said. "It makes it that much more interesting to go out and overcome those odds. It's something that hasn't been done that often, but we've been able to do it before -- being the No. 8 seed and beating the No. 1 seed and getting to the finals."

But that was last year, back when the Knicks were running and rebounding with equal vigor.

In this series, they're doing neither.

"We just have to remember how we've won and why we've won," Sprewell said, "and make that happen on the court."


 
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