NBA

Knicks top Heat in low-scoring battle


Published: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 6:01 a.m.
Last Modified: Tuesday, January 21, 2003 at 3:30 a.m.

NEW YORK (AP) - The tape of Monday's Heat-Knicks game will not be sent to the Basketball Hall of Fame. Instead, Latrell Sprewell had a better idea.

"Burn it," Sprewell said. "No one wants to see that."

Sprewell outscored Miami all by himself in the first quarter and New York went on to defeat the Heat 72-65 Monday as the teams matched the NBA record for fewest combined points in a first half with 57.

Sprewell scored 14 of his 24 points in the first quarter as New York took an 18-12 lead. Miami eventually went ahead by as many as eight, but the Heat managed only 11 points in the fourth quarter and lost on the road for the seventh straight time.

Kurt Thomas added 15 points, making two key plays in the final minute while the outcome was still in doubt. The Knicks scored their final four points from the line in the last 22 seconds _ including a pair of free throws by Allan Houston to double his point total to 4 _ to help account for the final margin.

Eddie Jones scored 19 and Malik Allen added 13 for the Heat, whose 65 points were a season-low.

"We kept scratching and scraping and trying to do what we could," Thomas said. We needed this win, and we have to build off this."

Miami, 0-13 when scoring fewer than 80 points, finished more than 20 points below its season average of 85.3 _ the second-lowest in the NBA behind Denver.

The Heat shot 34 percent from the field (26-for-77), 53 percent from the line (9-for-17) and committed 18 turnovers. New York wasn't much better, shooting 39 percent from the field. But the Knicks had only 12 turnovers.

The Knicks and Heat matched the first-half scoring record set earlier this season when Detroit and Denver combined for 57 on Nov. 16.

Prior to this season, the record of 58 had stood since Jan. 25, 1955 when Fort Wayne and Syracuse combined for that total _ although Dallas and Indiana matched the record on Feb. 13, 1998.

New York scored just nine points in the second quarter and trailed 30-27 at the half. The Knicks shot just 35 percent in the half (12-for-34) with 10 turnovers, while the Heat shot 11-for-34 (32 percent) with nine turnovers.

"I couldn't believe it when we got in at halftime and saw we had scored 9 in the second quarter. I can score that," Knicks coach Don Chaney said.

The Heat didn't reach 30 points until Jones hit a pair of free throws with 20.5 seconds left in the first half, and New York didn't get there until Howard Eisley made a layup 1:45 into the third quarter.

The offensive pace picked up in the third quarter as New York outscored Miami 29-24, Jones accounting for the bulk of Miami's offense with 13 points, but the teams reverted to their frustrating form in the fourth.

Brian Grant went to the bench with his sixth foul after he hacked Charlie Ward on a breakaway with 1:25 left. Ward made both free throws for a 66-61 lead.

Malik Allen answered with a jumper, but Thomas hit a turnaround from 12 feet and then drew a charging foul on Jones with 26.2 seconds left.

"We couldn't make any plays down the stretch," Miami's Pat Riley said. "They deserved to win because they kept digging it out."

Notes:@ New York's record for fewest points in a half is 22, set March 12, 1999, at Chicago ... When Sprewell was called for a blocking foul late in the first quarter, he turned to referee Violet Palmer and said: "It's a flop, but it's not a foul." ... Miami G Travis Best made his first start since Jan. 1 when he sprained his right ankle. He finished 2-for-8 with six assists. ... It was the lowest combined score in a home game for the Knicks since the inception of the shot clock in 1954-55. The previous low at Madison Square Garden was 142 in New York's 79-63 victory over Chicago on Feb. 21, 1999.

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