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With 72-70 win, Knicks take Heat to seven games
Posted: Sunday May 21, 2000 12:13 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- It took an incredible comeback to do it, and that's exactly what New York summoned to send another Knicks-Heat series back to Miami for yet another winner-take-all, loser-goes-home finale.
Just when it looked like they were dead, the Knicks reached deep down and managed a dramatic rally from an 18-point deficit. Overcoming Miami's relentless defense and their own self-doubts after a miserable first half, the Knicks beat Miami 72-70 Friday night to force a deciding Game 7 on Sunday.
"They were done. They were dead," Miami's Tim Hardaway said. "I knew they were going to give it one last gasp in the second half, and if we had make some shots and kept the lead up going into the fourth, they would have folded. But you've got to give them credit, they did the things they needed to do."
It was an incredible comeback given the way the Heat dominated for most of the game, but the Knicks -- like they did last year in their improbable run to the finals -- found a way to thrive on adversity and save their playoff lives.
Patrick Ewing scored New York's final basket by dunking home an offensive rebound with 1:56 left, and Chris Childs and Allan Houston won it by each making a pair of free throws in the final 91 seconds.
Miami did not score over the final 2:20, and when Anthony Carter's 3-point bomb missed at the buzzer, the Heat had blown a golden opportunity to get past their biggest rival and move on to the conference finals.
"This is what everybody wanted, a Game 7," Alonzo Mourning said. "Now you've got it."
"It was absolute madness," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "Absolutely."
The Knicks won the deciding games in 1998 and 1999 on Miami's home court after losing there in 1997, and now they'll get a chance to do it again.
Houston rebounded from an invisible Game 5 to lead the Knicks with 21 points, Latrell Sprewell added 15 and Ewing had 15 points and 18 rebounds.
"This was a great, great comeback," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "The only thing that makes it really memorable is if it leads to a series win."
The teams tied the NBA record for fewest combined points in a playoff game, matching the 142 by Atlanta and Detroit last season and Phoenix and San Antonio this year. Miami's 25 points in the second half were two better than the NBA record-low of 23 by Utah at Chicago in 1998.
After falling behind less than six minutes into the first quarter, it took the Knicks more than 40 minutes to catch up and tie the game. They finally did so on two free throws by Childs with 1:31 left that made it 70-70.
Carter missed a jumper, Marcus Camby was rejected by Mourning and Ewing then reached in to deflect an entry pass to Mourning, leading to a steal by Childs. New York then called timeout with 23.6 seconds left on the game clock and 17 on the shot clock.
Dan Majerle was called for a reach-in foul with 17.6 seconds left and Houston calmly sank both shots, giving the Knicks their first lead since 11-10.
The Heat then got the ball to Mourning in the low post, but he passed out of a double-team and found Carter for the final shot of the game.
When it missed, Madison Square Garden erupted in pandemonium -- as opposite a collective emotion as there could be from the way the crowd felt at halftime.
"The shot felt real good and I thought it was going in," Carter said, "but I shot it a little too long."
The game started getting away from the Knicks early in the second quarter after they closed to 21-20 by scoring the first four points of the period.
Jamal Mashburn made Sprewell look silly, spinning around him on the perimeter and going in for an uncontested layup, and Carter followed with a 23-foot jumper for an 8-0 run that made it 29-21.
Missing layups, turning the ball over and too often getting only one shot, the Knicks offensive futility would not subside as Miami's confidence continued to grow.
For every New York mistake, Miami found a way to capitalize. Two turnovers by Sprewell in the period were both followed by Miami points, and Sprewell also committed a flagrant foul on a breakaway by Carter with 2:53 left. Carter made both, Bruce Bowen made a foul shot and all of the sudden the Heat was up 43-25 and the Knicks looked dead.
Some of the liveliness that was missing in the first half finally appeared at the start of the second half as the Knicks erupted for 11 points in the first three minutes to close to 47-41.
"They've got you back on your heels," Riley screamed at his team during a timeout as its 18-point lead was suddenly down to six.
New York got as close as five on four subsequent occasions but couldn't get any closer until Sprewell made a free throw with 1:52 left in the period to make it 53-49, but Miami took a 58-53 lead into the fourth.
The Knicks committed foul fouls in the first 1:51 of the fourth and failed to score on their first four possessions, yet stayed in it as Miami went 5 1/2 minutes without a field goal after Carter's corner jumper made it 60-53 with 11:21 left.
Mourning hit two free throws with 7:30 left but then missed a pair a minute later, and a short jumper by Houston made it 62-58 with 6:18 left. The teams traded baskets until Majerle missed on a drive and Ewing hit a 15-footer to make it 66-64 with 3:19 left.
Carter and Houston traded baskets, Carter hit again from the corner, Ewing dunked a miss by Childs, Mourning missed a jumper and Childs finally tied it at 70-70 on two foul shots with 1:31 left.
"It seemed as the fourth quarter went along we just made bad play after bad play," P.J. Brown said. "It just kind of mounted, and we couldn't come back from it."
Notes: Brown fouled out with 1:31 left, finishing with no points and five rebounds in his worst game of the series. ... Mourning led Miami with 22 and Carter had 15. ... The Eastern Conference finals will begin Tuesday at Indiana, with only one day off between games throughout the series.