Knicks' record-setting D not enough against Rockets
Updated: Friday January 12, 2001 1:18 AM
NEW YORK (AP) -- The New York Knicks went into the NBA record books Thursday night for their defense. Because of their offense, they lost the game.
Cuttino Mobley drove around Latrell Sprewell for a layup with 8.7 seconds left to complete a game-ending 7-0 run as the Houston Rockets took advantage of a horrible offensive collapse by New York to defeat the Knicks 76-75.
"We deserved to lose," coach Jeff Van Gundy said.
The Knicks failed to score over the final 3:20 and had to improvise their final shot after Allan Houston failed to run into the backcourt to receive an inbounds pass. Houston later admitted that he was unaware of a rule change effective this season that allows players to go into the backcourt to receive the ball when it's inbounded from midcourt.
Instead, Larry Johnson got the ball and missed an 18-footer just before the final buzzer.
"I don't care if those guys have the record, that's not the issue. The issue is winning the game," Rockets coach Rudy Tomjanovich said. "It shows that you never give up. If you do the right things on the court, it doesn't matter who the other guys are, what their record is, how much money they make. If you do the right things, you can win a game."
The Rockets, who improved to 9-1 against teams from the Eastern Conference, were ecstatic at the buzzer. Tomjanovich ran onto the court and hugged Mobley, while Steve Francis -- who had 22 points, nine assists and eight rebounds -- jumped over the scorer's table on his way to the locker room.
Shandon Anderson had 17 points and Mobley 16 for the Rockets, who hoisted up 30 3-pointers and made 12.
Johnson had 18 points and Houston added 13 for the Knicks, who missed their final six shots. Latrell Sprewell shot just 1-for-11, while Charlie Ward was 1-for-6 and Erick Strickland was 2-for-9. As a team, New York shot 31 percent.
The Knicks led for almost the entire game, falling behind for less than two minutes midway through the third quarter before closing the quarter with a 10-3 run to take a 60-55 lead into the fourth.
New York's lead reached 10 when Johnson converted a three-point play with just under six minutes left to make it 73-63, but the Knicks then went into a drought and made only one field goal the rest of the way -- a jumper by Houston with 3:21 left that made it 75-69.
The Rockets scored their next five points from the foul line, but Mobley, Francis and Anderson each missed a free throw in the final 21/2 minutes.
Anderson's free throw with 45.7 seconds left pulled Houston to 75-74, and Houston missed on a drive with 20 seconds left. The Rockets rebounded and called timeout, then isolated Mobley against Sprewell on the right side for the game-winning basket.
"We were late on our help, that's what it comes down to," Houston said. "We weren't there to help soon enough, and on a key play like that everyone has to be on the same page."
Johnson tried to draw a foul on the final shot, but Maurice Taylor avoided committing one despite leaving his feet on a pump-fake.
"It was probably a no-call," Johnson said.
Notes: The Rockets were called for nine offensive fouls. ... The Rockets had lost their previous five regular-season games at Madison Square Garden. ... The Knicks dropped to 8-5 against teams from the West. Their next two games are against Portland and San Antonio. ... The Rockets improved to 7-1 on Thursdays and won for just the second time in 16 games when trailing entering the fourth quarter.