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Childs' play

Guard leads Knicks to another series win over Miami

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Posted: Monday May 22, 2000 08:51 AM

  Chris Childs Chris Childs checks on an injured Alonzo Mourning after Mourning went down in a mad scramble for a ball. AP

MIAMI (AP) -- Same setting, new ending, familiar result: The Knicks are moving on and the Heat are going home.

The New York Knicks did it again in Miami, ending the Heat's season in a hostile arena for the third straight year in yet another riveting win-or-else game -- this time with a finish that left the home team crying foul.

Getting the winning points from Patrick Ewing with 1:20 left and the benefit of an official's call with 2.1 seconds left, the Knicks knocked the Heat out of the playoffs 83-82 Sunday in Game 7 of their second-round series to advance to the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana.

So upset were the Heat with the way the ending went down -- they felt an official had awarded the Knicks a timeout when no one had asked for one -- that Jamal Mashburn chased the referees as they ran off the court while Miami's coaches yelled that they had been robbed.

Referee Bennett Salvatore said Sprewell had called a timeout, although Sprewell admitted he hadn't. Chris Childs said it was he who had called time out from several feet away, while Sprewell thought it was Marcus Camby who called it.

"They had three officials in their pocket," Mashburn said.

After running the rest of the time off the clock without allowing the Heat to foul, the Knicks mobbed each other at midcourt -- celebrating again on another May afternoon in Miami after a draining, all-out battle with their fiercest rivals.

This was vintage Knicks-Heat, another gripping chapter in a rivalry so strong, with games so intense, that it almost seemed predestined to go down to the final shot.

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Tim Hardaway hit a 3-pointer with 1:32 left to give Miami an 82-81 lead, and Ewing slipped behind Alonzo Mourning for a dunk that made it 83-82 with 1:20 left.

Mashburn missed a jumper in the lane but atoned for it by stealing the ball from Childs with 34 seconds left. Hardaway then missed a runner, and the rebound was batted around until a jump ball was called. Mourning won the tap to give the Heat the ball with 12.4 seconds left.

The Heat called a timeout and then got the ball to Mourning, but he passed out of a double-team and the ball ended up in the hands of Clarence Weatherspoon for a 12-footer that bounced off the back rim.

"We weren't going to let Alonzo beat us," said Childs, who single-handedly kept the Knicks in the game during the fourth quarter. "With Weatherspoon, I don't think he's been in that situation many times before."

Sprewell rebounded, and Salvatore stopped the clock with 2.1 seconds left after ruling that Sprewell had called a timeout. The Heat argued that Sprewell never called for a timeout -- an argument backed up by television replays and Sprewell's own admission.

The referees huddled but did not change the call.

"I had Sprewell calling timeout," Salvatore said, "but I wasn't sure where his foot was. I didn't believe he was out of bounds, but I wanted to check with my partner [Dick Bavetta and Dan Crawford were the other officials] to make sure he was not out of bounds when my whistle blew. He confirmed that there was no question the timeout came before he went out of bounds."

Hardaway was among the most vocal critics of the call -- on the court and again after the game.
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"I see why they call Dick Bavetta 'Knick' Bavetta," Hardaway said.

Childs took the final 2.1 seconds off the clock by catching Charlie Ward's inbounds pass and hurling it high in the air.

Just like that, it was over. A series that had included Heat guard Anthony Carter's incredible shot from behind the backboard in Game 3 and the Knicks' stunning comeback from an 18-point deficit in Game 6 had ended with New York's third straight celebration on the Heat's home floor.

This one might have hurt the most for the Heat, especially with the way they botched Game 6 and then frittered away a lead down the stretch of Game 7.

"Losing all measures up to be the same -- it's bad all the time," Mourning said. "It can't get any worse. It's all misery."

Sprewell led the Knicks with 24 points, 20 coming in the first half. Ewing added 20 points and 10 rebounds, and Childs scored 15 points in his best game of the postseason.

Mourning led the Heat with 29 points but missed three foul shots in the fourth quarter when Miami was trying to increase slim leads.

The game was tied at 65 after three quarters to set up a fitting final 12 minutes: Two teams, already having proven themselves so evenly matched throughout this series, slugging it out possession by possession with their seasons on the line.

Miami quickly went up by six by hitting their first three shots of the quarter, and the only thing that kept the Knicks close over the next five minutes was the hot hand of Childs, who scored New York's first 10 points of the period, and the Heat's futility at the line as they missed their first five foul shots.

As each opportunity to gain ground passed unsuccessfully, the Knicks still managed to stay within striking distance. Two foul shots by Childs, a missed drive by Mashburn and a layup by Ewing cut Miami's lead to 79-77 with 3:26 left, and Larry Johnson made two from the line with 2:55 left to tie it 79-all after Miami committed its third 24-second violation of the quarter.

Sprewell made two from the line with 2:21 left for an 81-79 lead, and Hardaway responded with a 3-pointer to make it 82-81 with 1:32 left.

Those, however, would be the Heat's last points of the season.

"This was a very unique matchup," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "A lot of respect has been gained by both teams for one another, but as I said the other day, one team just sort of ran out of clock."

Mourning was a force in the early going, and Hardaway started hot, too, as the two combined for all of Miami's first 18 points -- Mourning scoring 12 and Hardaway six -- before Dan Majerle hit a 3-pointer and then fed Weatherspoon for an alley-oop dunk and a 23-14 lead.

A 9-0 run by New York while Mourning was on the bench tied it at 29, and Sprewell had 12 points in the quarter before Mourning even attempted his first shot -- a dunk with 3 1/2 minutes left before halftime -- that turned out to be his only shot of the quarter. The Knicks closed the half with another 9-0 run for a 45-39 lead at the break.

Miami's first three baskets of the second half were 3-pointers as the Heat quickly caught up, but Ewing scored 10 points in the quarter and New York led for most of it before settling for a 65-65 tie entering the fourth.

In 1998, the Knicks won the deciding Game 5 handily as the Heat were without Mourning who was suspended for fighting with Johnson at the end of Game 4. Last year, also in Game 5, it was Allan Houston's shot with less than a second to play that bounced off the rim and backboard before falling in.

"It's been very, very special to be a part of this the last four years. To be able to beat them three straight years on their home court is a terrific accomplishment for our guys," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said.

Notes: The Knicks are 3-4 in Game 7s during the Ewing era. This was only the second Game 7 in Heat history. They beat New York in Game 7 of the second round in 1997. ... The respect between the teams was at such a high level that old enemies Johnson and Mourning exchanged a fist slap prior to tipoff. ... Kurt Thomas and Johnson of the Knicks drew technicals, Thomas for shoving Mourning and Johnson for pushing away Crawford's hand. ... Miami's P.J. Brown fouled out of his second straight game, finishing with nine points and five rebounds. ... The conference finals begin Tuesday night at Indianapolis. Game 2 is Thursday, then the series moves to New York for Game 3 Saturday and Game 4 Monday.

 
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