Work in Sports
INDIANAPOLIS (Ticker) -- Dale Davis never has been much of a free-throw shooter. But he always was a pretty good rebounder.
After missing two free throws, Davis ran down the rebound and fed Jalen Rose for a dunk with 2.4 seconds to go that gave the Indiana Pacers a wild 88-84 victory over the New York Knicks and a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.
"We finally caught some luck in the playoffs," Pacers coach Larry Bird said.
The Pacers erased a six-point fourth-quarter deficit and put the Knicks in the unenviable position of having to win four of the next five games -- perhaps without star center Patrick Ewing, who suffered a sprained tendon in his right foot in the first quarter and did not return.
"I'm gonna go back and get an MRI tomorrow and hopefully I'll be able to play on Saturday," Ewing said. "They're (doctors) basically saying it's a sprain."
The Pacers, who have not lost four of five since mid-January, took their first lead of the final period at 86-84 on two free throws by Reggie Miller with 28 seconds to play. The Knicks used their last timeout and went to Latrell Sprewell, who missed an 11-footer over the shorter Travis Best.
Davis, who had 14 points and 16 boards in Game One, pulled down the rebound and was fouled with 5.8 seconds left. Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy quickly diagrammed a play before Davis -- a career 51 percent free-throw shooter who hired a shot doctor to help him two years ago -- went to the line.
Davis left the first one short, giving the Knicks a chance to tie. He back-rimmed the second but hopped into the lane and the Knicks, in their haste to get into their final possession, did not box him out. Davis wrested the ball from Charlie Ward and fed a cutting Rose for the clinching slam.
"You definitely don't want to miss on purpose, but I saw if I did miss I had a clear shot at getting it and I saw the result and I ran and grabbed it," said Davis, who shot a career-high 68.5 percent from the line this season. "They were trying to box out on the block and I knew I had a chance. If it was high enough, I could jump right over them. They had smaller guys down there."
"I rebound for Dale every day (in practice)," Bird said. "In practice he hits them all the time. I honestly thought he would hit the second one."
Some of the Knicks thought Davis entered the lane before the ball hit the rim, a violation.
"I didn't know you could cross the line to get a rebound before the ball hits the rim," Knicks guard Chris Childs said. "It's really frustrating out there with some of the things that occur."
"On the last play it looked to me like he left the line early," New York forward Kurt Thomas said. "We had a quick play called but obviously we weren't able to run it."
Davis scored only three points but again grabbed 16 rebounds.
Rose overcame an awful start and a chipped tooth to finish with 24 points, including 10 in the fourth quarter. In the absence of Ewing, center Rik Smits also had a big final period with 10 of his 12 points.
"I am sitting here with half my tooth knocked out and I was 7-of-19, but I will take it," Rose said.
New York's Larry Johnson bounced back from a poor opener with 25 points and Kurt Thomas filled in nicely for Ewing with 10 points and eight rebounds. But Sprewell and Allan Houston combined to shoot just 9-of-27, as both missed open shots down the stretch.
Game Three is Saturday in New York.
"We'll just play a little bit more loose," Miller said. "When it's 1-1 and you're going into someone else's place, you know you have to get a victory. Now we can go in there a little bit looser, because now the pressure's back on them."
The Knicks led 66-61 after three periods and a jumper by Houston and two free throws by Sprewell made it 73-67 with 7:58 to play.
But Houston sat with his fifth foul and Smits started his surge with a three-point play 16 seconds later.
The 7-4 center added a spinner in the lane and a jumper around a basket by Thomas to cut the deficit to 78-77 with 4:07 to go.
Thomas had a follow dunk, but Smits had another three-point play to tie it with 3:01 remaining.
"I personally hadn't done anything for three quarters but make a bunch of fouls, so I really came out with an attitude that I didn't care," Smits said. "If I was going to pick up some more fouls, that was OK. If I was going to create something and do something, even better. And that's what happened."
"Rik is the reason why we won the game," Miller said. "That three-point play at the end was huge."
Houston responded with a left-wing jumper for an 82-80 lead and Smits and Houston traded misses before Miller blew past Houston for the tying drive with 1:53 left, leading to a pair of bizarre possessions.
Thomas went to the floor for an offensive rebound, then made an open corner jumper off ball rotation for an 84-82 lead with 1:19 to go. The Pacers nearly lost the ball in a scramble before Rose drilled a baseline jumper as the shot clock expired with 55 seconds remaining. Rose made his last four shots.
After Houston missed an open banker, Miller got free off a pick and Houston and Johnson bowled him over trying to recover to set up the go-ahead free throws.
Miller scored 19 points for the Pacers, who shot just 36 percent (28-of-77) from the field, including 4-of-18 from behind the arc. Indiana stayed in it by making 28-of-38 foul shots and again winning the boards battle, 49-45.
Houston scored 15 points, Chris Childs 12 and Sprewell 10 for New York, which shot 44 percent (34-of-78) and made 14-of-18 from the line. Marcus Camby grabbed 11 rebounds.
Childs suffered a knee injury in the fourth quarter, while Johnson (back) and Sprewell (quad) already are nursing injuries.
Unlike Game One, the Pacers started slowly, falling in a 12-4 hole in the first 4 1/2 minutes as Johnson scored six points, doubling his total from the opener.
But the Knicks couldn't keep the Pacers down, and then Ewing went down. Battling for position in the low post, he pulled up lame and went to the bench with 5:29 to go in the first quarter.
"I tried to make a play going to the basket on a pass from Larry and I just felt something pull," Ewing said.
"It obviously hurt us because it looked like he got off to a good start," Houston said.
Two free throws by Rose pulled Indiana into a 22-22 tie entering the second period and the Pacers opened a 31-26 lead on a 3-pointer by Best with 6:43 left in the first half, completing a 13-4 burst. But Childs scored seven points and Johnson six in the remainder of the half, helping the Knicks regain a 43-42 lead.
Despite working against the smaller Thomas, Smits was unable to take advantage. He committed four fouls in the first 5:02 and took a seat. Johnson had two baskets in an 8-2 spurt that closed the quarter and gave the Knicks a five-point lead.