Work in Sports
MIAMI (Ticker) -- On both ends of the court, Dan Majerle was too much for the New York Knicks.
Majerle shut down Allan Houston after the first quarter and made two huge 3-pointers down the stretch as the Miami Heat pushed the Knicks to the brink of elimination with an 87-81 victory in Game Five of the Eastern Conference semifinals.
Majerle allowed Houston six points in the opening period and only six thereafter. His dogged defense made New York's All-Star guard disappear in the middle two periods.
But Majerle was even better on offense. He scored 10 of his 16 points in the final five-plus minutes as he personally turned away a rally by the Knicks.
"When it's gets to that time of the game, your adrenaline is really flowing and the crowd gets you going," Majerle said.
"We needed him," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "Those jumpers he made at the end were big."
A jumper by Houston -- his only basket of the final period -- pulled New York within 74-70 with 2:54 left. Majerle answered with a 3-pointer that pushed the lead to seven points.
After a 3-pointer by Charlie Ward, Majerle wound up with the ball about five feet behind the arc. With Latrell Sprewell running at him, he launched a bomb that banged in and rebuilt the lead to 80-73 with 1:41 to go.
"I just know I was out there," Majerle said. "In that situation, I like to get out as far as possible because my guy is going to sag off of me."
"One of Dan's three's was really, really deep," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We played good defense on that possession."
A basket by Patrick Ewing and two free throws by Houston made it 80-77 with 56 seconds remaining. The Heat swung the ball into the left corner to Bruce Bowen, who drilled a 3-pointer -- his only basket of the game -- to seal it with 35 seconds to play.
"It was a wide-open shot," Bowen said. "I hit one similar here in my first game I played for the Heat against the Knicks."
"We didn't do a good job today making our defensive rotation," Knicks swingman Latrell Sprewell said. "We've got to rotate better and know which one to make.
Bowen was waived by the Chicago Bulls in February and both the Knicks and Heat were interested in him. He was available on the one day of the season on which New York had a better record than Miami, which allowed the Heat to claim him.
Jamal Mashburn scored 21 points and Alonzo Mourning added 18 for Miami, which can return to the conference finals for the first time since 1997 with a win in New York in Game Six on Friday.
The Heat were eliminated by the Knicks in the first round in each of the last two years.
"We have to go up to New York and play our very best game," Miami rookie guard Anthony Carter said. "We're going to have to take full advantage of this one and hopefully, we can go up there and steal onem and close it out on their court."
Sprewell scored 24 points for New York, which reached the NBA Finals last year and has not lost back-to-back playoff games to Miami since 1997. The Knicks won a pair of elimination games from the Heat in 1998.
"We're going home and it's no secret that we have to win," Sprewell said. "To do so, we've got to play better defensively, especially down the stretch. They don't have to win two games in a row. We do. The burden is on us."
The Heat opened a nine-point lead late in the third quarter and survived a 7:34 stretch without a basket. Two free throws by Larry Johnson gave New York a 66-66 tie with 6:44 left before a jumper by Carter ended Miami's drought.
Sprewell followed with a jumper but Mashburn made a turnaround shot and Majerle had a three-point play in transition, giving the Heat a 73-68 lead with 5:16 to go. Mashburn added a free throw with 3:42 left.
"We were tied at 66 and didn't guard at all," Van Gundy said.
"They blew by us on the dribble and broke us down."
Injured Tim Hardaway had his most effective game of the series with 12 points and four assists for the Heat, who shot 42 percent (31-of-74) but made 20-of-27 foul shots and held a 42-32 rebounding edge.
Ewing had 16 points and 11 rebounds and Ward scored 12 points for the Knicks, who shot 47 percent (35-of-74) but shot just 8-of-12 from the line. Van Gundy was at a loss to explain the discrepancy from the stripe.
"That's a good question. I would like to know the answer to that," he said.
Sprewell scored eight points in a 10-0 burst that gave New York a 14-4 lead just over five minutes into the game. Miami closed to 22-19 after one period and surged ahead in the second period.
A 19-footer by Carter gave the Heat a 29-28 edge midway through the period. Two free throws by Mashburn capped an 8-1 run that closed the half and opened a 41-35 lead.
The Knicks made their first five shots of the third quarter and pulled into a 47-47 tie but could not gain control because Hardaway, who is nursing a foot injury, finally came alive.
He fed Mourning for a layup, converted a three-point play and 3-pointer, set up Majerle for a layup and scored on a drive to give the Heat a 64-55 lead with 1:54 left in the period.
"I tried to bring the ball down and give it to people," Hardaway said. "I had to get myself going and needed to do more things on the offensive end."
"In the third quarter, Tim was giving us offense," Riley said.
"He's really playing with a lot of guts right now, but we needed his offense in the third quarter and he supplied that for us."