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N.Y. Backups Can’t Eliminate Miami

Sat., May 17, 1997

NBA playoffs

This second-round series of suspensions and suspense will finally be settled Sunday.

The short-handed New York Knicks simply didn’t have enough to close out Miami on Friday night, losing 95-90 when their suspension-weakened lineup couldn’t match the Heat down the stretch.

Alonzo Mourning and Dan Majerle had their best games of the series and the Heat used a flurry of 3-pointers in the fourth quarter to pull away.

It forced a deciding game for Sunday afternoon with a chance for the Heat to become just the sixth team in NBA history to successfully come back from a 3-1 deficit, seventh if the Seattle SuperSonics do the same by defeating Houston today.

“We’re very fortunate to get back (home),” Heat coach Pat Riley said. “We were down 3-1, we won a big game on Wednesday and we came in here and won tonight. It comes down to the ultimate game, and there are no guarantees on anything.”

The Heat overcame an emotion-charged New York team still reeling from the NBA’s suspension of six players five Knicks and Miami’s P.J. Brown - for a brawl in Game 5.

New York was without its two leading scorers, Patrick Ewing and Allan Houston, as well as backup point guard Charlie Ward. Three hours before gametime, a federal judge declined to stop the playoff suspensions of the four Knicks.

The Knicks made up for the loss of offense for more than three quarters, but a cold spell midway though the fourth - along with their inability to stop Mourning inside all game - sealed their fate.

“Obviously, when you have players out from both teams it has an impact, but we had more than enough to win with,” Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said.

Mourning led Miami with 28 points and nine rebounds, Majerle added 18 points with four 3-pointers and Tim Hardaway scored 20 points.

The Knicks will have to play Game 7 without starters Larry Johnson and John Starks, who will serve their suspensions Sunday, while Brown will sit out the second game of his two-game suspension.

Hardaway’s two 3-pointers in the first 6 minutes of the fourth quarter started the Heat’s game-breaking 18-10 run. Majerle also had two 3-pointers in the run and Mourning iced the victory on a 3-pointer with 1:16 left.

Heat 95, Knicks 90

Miami (95) - Mashburn 2-8 2-2 7, Majerle 7-12 0-0 18, Mourning 10-18 7-14 28, Lenard 2-8 4-4 8, Hardaway 8-17 1-4 20, Austin 5-9 2-2 12, Anderson 1-1 0-0 2, Crotty 0-2 0-0 0. Totals 35-75 16-26 95.

New York (90) - Johnson 6-12 8-9 20, Oakley 7-14 4-5 18, B.Williams 2-8 3-4 7, Starks 6-16 0-0 15, Childs 9-17 3-3 22, H.Williams 2-5 0-0 4, Wallace 2-8 0-0 4, Brooks 0-0 0-0 0. Totals 34-80 18-21 90.

Miami 17 23 24 31 - 95 New York 27 17 22 24 - 90

3-Point goals-Miami 9-23 (Majerle 4-8, Hardaway 3-8, Mourning 1-2, Mashburn 1-3, Lenard 0-2), New York 4-12 (Starks 3-8, Childs 1-3, Oakley 0-1). Fouled out-Starks. Rebounds-Miami 43 (Mourning 9), New York 56 (Oakley 12). Assists-Miami 20 (Hardaway 8), New York 18 (Childs 9). Total fouls-Miami 14, New York 20. Technical-Miami illegal defense. A-19,763 (19,763).

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