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Posted by Kelly Dwyer
Indiana Pacers at New York Knicks, Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, 6-5-99
The lockout year, a timeline that I have running from July of 1998 until late June of 1999, was the absolute height of NBA absurdity. Anyone hemming and hawing over the frustrations the league has thrown our way over the last 12 calendar months need to realize that nothing holds a candle to the NBA's latest and longest labor stalemate.
It was an odd, odd time; leading off with a bizarre press conference introducing Tim Floyd as the newest ... "something" for the Chicago Bulls -- just in case Phil Jackson wanted to come back to coach. The largest batch of free agents we can remember had to wait until January of 1999 to find a home, one they had to find quickly (the offseason, training camp, and preseason had to all fit inside a month's time), and a truncated, crammed schedule (50 games in three months?) allowed for some pretty dismal basketball.
But there was some fun to be had, typified by a New York Knicks team that should not have lost as many games as it did (27 and 23 on the year) making it to the Finals after seeing just about everything go right for them during that year's postseason. This game is obviously the preeminent example of such. Most of you know how it ends, but not a lot of people (myself included, I haven't seen this game since 2001) have long forgotten just why a better Pacer team couldn't put away these Knicks.
1Q, 11:50: Larry Johnson misses a 3-pointer from the right corner. There will likely be a lot of these, so don't fret if I gloss over a half-quarter at a time of shot clock-milking and missed perimeter chances.
1Q, 11:27: Nobody's hit yet. The Knicks are starting Chris Dudley at center, Larry Johnson and Kurt Thomas up front, with Charlie Ward and Allan Houston in the backcourt. The Pacers are countering with Rik Smits in the pivot, Dale Davis and Chris Mullin at the forwards, and Reggie Miller with Mark Jackson at the guard positions. Patrick Ewing had torn his Achilles past the straining point in Game 2 of this series, a contest he had a chance to win with an open jumper from the top of the key in the final seconds, and he'll be out for the remainder of the postseason.
1Q, 11:02: LJ works an up-and-under to get to the line. Bill Walton: "That back-up of LJ's has been the Knick-style at its worst, when he comes in and takes seven or eight dribbles trying to get something for himself. The Knicks are much better when they move the ball around."
1Q, 11:02: Steve Jones: "So, when you get fouled trying to score, it's not good?"
1Q, 9:58: I sometimes forget what a pleasure it is to watch Mark Jackson bring the ball up the court, often moving his shoulders ahead of the actual rock as he puts spin on the ball, bouncing it backwards, and calling the play out with his outstretched arms.
1Q, 9:52: Tom Hammond (the broadcaster), who I like a great deal, just pointed out how Allan Houston is doing "an underrated job on Reggie Miller in this series." Miller is leading the Pacers at 22.5 points per game entering Game 3, and hit the game-winner in Game 2.
1Q, 8:10: Mullin backs down Charlie Ward, Ward falls down, and gets rewarded with the foul. Bad basketball. Bad.
1Q, 7:55: Dudley "takes a charge" on Smits. Be a defender, and block his shot. Horrid.
1Q, 7:32: Nine combined points after four and a half minutes. Walton: "Not the prettiest of starts."
1Q, 7:21: NBC is showing a clip of then-Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, whining, talking about how "whining wins in the NBA." Apparently, JVG is upset because his Knicks aren't allowed to bump cutters as they work through screens, or put two hands into a guard as they drive. I don't think you'll ever hear a more pathetic, 30-second sound byte. That was insufferable. He even topped it off with this: "we're not a physical team." I don't think I'm going to make it to the second quarter.
1Q, 7:15: As if on cue from their fearless leader, the Madison Square Garden crowd starts a "[Steve] Ja-vie sucks" chant during a dead ball.
1Q, 7:02: Latrell Sprewell, his mullet, and his mutton-chop sideburns check in. How is it that Spre was allowed to go a decade looking like a member of the Marshall Tucker Band without anyone calling him on it? Probably because he could do this.
1Q, 6:30: Both teams have still combined to score nine points.
1Q, 6:02: Oh ... my ... mutton-chops. Chris Dudley gets a rebound a foot away from the basket and is allowed to pump fake three times before laying it in. Both Dale and Antonio Davis just stand and watch. Kindly foul the man whose free throw percentage rivals Rod Carew's batting average.
1Q, 5:30: Dudley, a foot away from the basket again, somehow manages to miss the box on the glass by a foot and send a lay-up attempt to the weak side, where LJ grabs the carom and puts it in. Walton: "What a pass from Chris Dudley."
1Q, 4:00: Jackson drives left for a lay-up. Bill Walton mentions "the quickness of Mark Jackson," somehow without laughing, and then asks, "Where was Kurt Thomas?" Steve Jones: "On the bench."
1Q, 3:03: NBC shows a graphic, telling us that the Knicks have missed 15 of the team's first 18 shots; and I'm trying to figure out where those three makes came from.
1Q, 2:53: Chris Childs is allowed to keep two hands on Mark Jackson from ten feet behind the half-court line until Jackson dribbles to the 3-point circle. I know I'm coming off as incredibly anti-Knicks, here, but that's what happens when the coach of the hand-checkiest team in NBA history whines about too many hand-check calls.
1Q, 2:12: Spre's patented running lay-up: swooping in from the left side, moving the ball away from a defender who is flying by, finger-rolling into the front of the rim. 12-12 after almost nine minutes.
1Q, 1:30: Jalen Rose is in for Indiana. Chris Mullin played for ten minutes before getting subbed out? Things are starting to make more sense.
1Q, .18.3: Rose snuffs Sprewell on a post-up attempt, moving his feet and blocking his jumper. When Rose wanted to, he could defend. He rarely wanted to. Marcus Camby is in for New York, Dudley leaves with four points and six rebounds.
1Q, .0.00: LJ nails a face-up 3-pointer from about 32-feet.
2Q, 10:00: You'd think that there would be no reason why a Pacer team like this should have but 17 points after 14 minutes. Then you remember that Rick Carlisle was Larry Bird's "offensive guru" that season.
2Q, 7:30: I have a word for this game, and that word is "labored."
2Q, 6:57: Marcus Camby steals the ball and dribbles coast-to-coast, looking about twice as athletic as he does today (and he looks pretty darn athletic these days), and that was very exciting. Of course, he's leveled by Jalen Rose before he can finish, but it was a fun three seconds.
2Q, 6:25: Want to know why I really didn't care about Baron Davis' beard last spring? Because of Larry Johnson's beard from this postseason. Glorious.
2Q, 5:15: Man, those Knicks are fun to watch when they run. For as many stops as they got, it'd made no sense for them to walk as much as they did. Actually, Jeff Van Gundy was the coach, so it kind of makes sense. Kurt Thomas is quite adept at setting screens in transition.
2Q, 4:48: Before he grew scared of what could happen on the way down (and who could blame him?), M
arcus Camby was a beast. He just lunged at the ball, with little provocation. Seven points and four boards in eight minutes so far for Camby.
2Q, 4:09: Trace a silhouette of the side view of Rik Smits' head, and then do the same for Latrell Sprewell. Show them to a friend. Dare them to tell the difference.
2Q, 2:12: You know what Rik Smits has? Rik Smits has touch. 11 points in the quarter, game tied at 36.
2Q, 1:38: Golden locks flowing in the wind, turnaround jumpers falling, Smits with 13 in the quarter.
2Q, 1:12: Herb Williams is on the bench in Knicks duds, he's 41-years old, and he really looks 41-years old. Actually, Herb just came on the court. This man is more than an interim coach.
2Q: .33.5: They're showing replays of actual scores, and about three seconds into the replay, you're thinking it's a re-showing of a foul that you missed. The camera follows a player who gets fouled three times, and then he makes a move and hits a shot. This was a different game, back then. When men were men and beards were long, and the basketball was horrrrrrible.
2Q, .14.8: Mark Jackson starts his post-up move.
2Q, .4.1: Mark Jackson finishes his post-up move, and dishes to Jalen Rose. Over ten seconds. Great game.
2Q, .0.00: Rose scores with ease and the Pacers go into halftime with a 47 to 42 lead. Why he won't get 15 shots in the second half is beyond me.
3Q, 11:50: Marcus Camby gets a pass, jumps from a good 18 inches inside the free throw line, and slams it in. Suffice to say, Camby is starting the second half. Chris Dudley is not starting the second half because, it turns out, he is Chris Dudley.
3Q, 11:22: At this point in his career, Chris Mullin is not up to NBA speed.
3Q, 10:58: Kurt Thomas misses two lay-ups. Walton: "Was that Kurt Thomas, or Charles Smith?"
3Q, 8:47: LJ faces up Dale Davis, works the triple-threat with a live dribble, and nails the jumper in his face. At whatever level, against whatever competition, that's fun to do.
3Q, 8:32: Charlie Ward flops again, and is draws the foul on Rik Smits. Walton: "Remember, ladies and gentleman, the Tony Awards are tomorrow night at the Gershwin Theater."
3Q, 7:41: Steve Jones: "The crowd is chanting 'Reggie ...' uh, 'sucks.'"
3Q, 6:46: LJ nails another jumper, he's made five in a row, and the game is tied.
3Q, 5:37: The Pacers have zero fast-break points. Shocker.
3Q, 2:22: This ... this is not an entertaining basketball game.
3Q, 1:28: Actually, it is pretty entertaining. I used to love these sorts of games in a perverse way, but when you're dying to put the Thursday Wizards up, and you know the Eastern Daylight Time-readers are about to leave the office, you'd really like Travis Best to stop dribbling, y'know?
3Q, .45.8: I'd also really like Larry Bird to run a play for Jalen Rose, instead of posting-up Derrick McKey.
3Q, .0.00: Marcus Camby has 19 points and eight rebounds, and the game is tied at 69.
4Q, 11:32: Masochism hits a new level: Chris Dudley has to shoot two free throws, by himself, after a flagrant foul. If NBC starts piping in Eagles songs, then I'll know I'm in Hell.
4Q, 10:45: LJ banks in a 3-pointer from the top of the arc, some 27-feet from the hoop. He might as well have shot it with two hands.
4Q, 9:38: Once again, I'm reminded of my one-man, one-act play from earlier this decade: Travis Best, Kindly Stop Dribbling.
4Q, 7:25: Um, seven minutes and twenty-five seconds to go.
4Q, 6:55: LJ has scored seven of New York's eight fourth quarter points, and apparently he's tied his playoff career-high (set in Game 1 of this series) with 22 points. He never scored more than 21 points with the Hornets in the playoffs?
4Q, 5:45: Smits hits a baseline jumper, Pacers by eight points. Still, for a veteran team, the concentration really isn't there. The Pacers aren't seeking out the best options offensively, and the team still takes defensive possessions off.
4Q, 4:00: After some sound ball movement and impatient Pacer defense, Chris Childs hits a jumper to draw New York within six.
4Q, 2:40: Up five, with the ball, and with nobody able to stop Rik Smits all night, the Pacers forget all about him after an initial screen and roll doesn't work. As sound a leader as Mark Jackson was, he's lost control of this game. The next two possessions see him trying to force-feed Antonio Davis in the post. Why?
4Q, 1:04: Reggie Miller misses a wide-open 14-footer. Yikes. Just two points in the second half. Knicks up three, and with the ball.
4Q, .44.6: LJ misses a hook, 24-second violation.
4Q, .20.0: It's about 24 seconds later, so you can guess what happened on Indiana's next possession.
4Q, .13.8: With LJ off the floor (Walton: "Larry Johnson is too good an offensive player to have on the bench, here."), Spre drives and finds Camby, who is fouled. Camby knocks them both in.
4Q, .11.9: Mark Jackson swishes two free throws, Pacers up three points.
4Q, .5.7: Not sure if you've seen this play before. After catching a tipped in-bound pass, Larry Johnson grabs the ball a good 28 feet from the hoop. After facing up and making one hard dribble to the left, he is grabbed by Antonio Davis. Hearing the whistle, LJ pulls up and nails a 3-pointer. Madison Square Garden shakes quite a bit. Yes, it shouldn't have been a shooting foul, but we watch the NBA, and we've seen much, much worse, continuation-wise. The Pacers call a timeout, down one, with plenty of time to score, but they've already lost.
4Q, 0.00: Mark Jackson's turnaround one-hander at the buzzer falls short, and the Knicks take Game 3. Back in 1999, I somehow make this night even less entertaining by deciding to accompany a young female out to see this movie.