An NBA blog from Newsday's Bobby Bonett
Flashback: Houston ducks under . . . got it!
Day 22 of our 30-team NBA playoff flashback profiles the New York Knicks. The Knicks franchise has two NBA titles, and has 12 playoff appearances since the 1991-92 season.
Date: May 16, 1999
Situation: The No. 8 New York Knicks and the No. 1 Miami Heat are tied, 2-2, heading to Game 5 of the 1999 Eastern Conference first round.
Context: The Knicks embodied the topsy-turvy lockout-shortened 1998-99 season: they acquired Latrell Sprewell from the Warriors a little over a year after Sprewell choked head coach P.J. Carlesimo; they managed to make the playoffs by just one game over the ninth-place Charlotte Hornets; and they had the No. 1 seed Heat on the brink in the first round, the two teams tied 2-2 heading to a decisive Game 5 in Miami.
Recap: At the half, Miami clung to a 41-37 lead, all-but ensuring two things: for the fifth straight game, at least one team would fail to score 80 points, and there was a real chance a No. 8 seed would beat a No. 1 seed for just the second time in NBA history. Neither team managed to pull away over the next 23 minutes; the Knicks tied the game at 60 heading to the fourth, and with just seconds left, Miami was up just one, 77-76. Cue Allan Houston. The high-scoring shooting guard, in his third season with the Knicks, hit a floater from the elbow with 0.8 seconds to go, giving the Knicks the lead. Houston proceeded to embark on one of the most recognizable celebrations in New York sports history, sprinting the length of the Miami court before emphatically pumping his fist at the home crowd. On the other end, Terry Porter’s prayer from three was no good, off back iron, and the No. 8 seed Knicks advanced. New York won, 78-77.
Top players: Patrick Ewing finished with a double-double with 22 points and 11 rebounds. Allan Houston scored just 12 points. Alonzo Mourning led Miami with 21 points, but had just five rebounds. Terry Porter finished 2-for-9 from the field, and 1-for-5 from three.
After the game: Just the second No. 8 seed to get out of the first round, the Knicks were again underdogs to the Hawks in the second round. But New York stayed hot, sweeping the Hawks, including a statement win, 79-66, in Game 4. Reggie Miller and the Pacers couldn’t slow down the Knicks either, with New York advancing to the Finals in six games. From the get-go, though, it was clear the Knicks were overmatched in the NBA Finals against Tim Duncan, David Robinson and the San Antonio Spurs. New York lost the first two games by a combined 25 points, and never really threatened, losing in five. Since 1999, the Knicks have only made the postseason four times; a loss in the conference finals the following year, and three other first round exits.
Check back tomorrow for the Pacers.
You can view the whole series back clicking the "Flashback" tag below.