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Another late-game collapse costs Knicks

12/30/2001

NEW YORK (AP) -- Doc Rivers called it Orlando's most incredible
victory since he's been coaching the team. The New York Knicks
didn't know what to call it, having long ago exhausted their supply
of negative definitives.

Tracy McGrady scored 29 points and blocked an ill-advised shot
by Charlie Ward with five seconds left as the Orlando Magic closed
the game with an 18-2 run and beat the New York Knicks 94-90 Sunday
night.

"We really had no business being in that game," Rivers said.
"It was an incredible win, the best since I've been here. This was
a sign of a team that has not decided to cave in, that has not
decided to quit because Grant (Hill) is not playing."

The collapse was the latest in a series of them for New York,
which has shown a penchant lately for blowing leads late in games.
Losing for the fifth time in their last six home games, the Knicks
were booed off the court.

The crowd also booed Allan Houston early in the third quarter
after he missed a free throw to remain scoreless, but the Knicks
seemed to have won the fans over and have the game in hand after
Latrell Sprewell hit a jumper for an 88-76 lead with 4:33 left.

"It hurt for like a second, but at the same time that's part of
the game," Houston said. "What I found myself doing was trying to
play harder just to quiet my home fans up."

The Knicks, who have blown big leads in the past three weeks
against Boston, Detroit, Indiana and Washington, missed three shots
on their next possession.

McGrady scored on a drive and Mike Miller and Pat Garrity hit
consecutive 3-pointers in an 11-0 run that made it 88-87. After
Houston hit a 23-footer, McGrady was fouled by Sprewell as he went
up for a dunk, and he converted the three-point play to tie it at
90.

Houston missed on a drive, and McGrady drew Shandon Anderson's
sixth foul by driving around him and into the lane. McGrady hit
both free throws with 17.1 seconds left for a 92-90 lead.

"We hung in there and I think they kind of got a little tight
at the end," McGrady said.

The Knicks then ran a two-man isolation play with Charlie Ward
and Sprewell, but Ward -- hounded by the taller McGrady -- could not
or would not throw an entry pass to Sprewell. Instead, he hoisted a
3-pointer that was blocked by McGrady.

"That wasn't the play, so it wasn't executed well. I was
supposed to pass it, but no one was available at the time," Ward
said -- a contention that was disputed by Sprewell.

Troy Hudson grabbed the loose ball and was fouled, making both
free throws to ice the win.

Hudson scored 15 and Miller 13 for the Magic.

Sprewell led the Knicks with 28, Houston had 17 and Kurt Thomas
added 16.

Houston heard scattered boos late in he first half when he
missed his sixth consecutive field goal attempt, and the boos got
much louder early in the third when he missed the first of two free
throws to remain scoreless.

The taunts seemed to inspire Houston, who hit three shots over
the rest of the quarter and began the fourth with consecutive
3-pointers for an 81-66 lead.

"We lost the game in the last three minutes, that's the bottom
line," Sprewell said. "We haven't won these types of games, so we
haven't developed the confidence that we can and that we're going
to.

"We've been in so many of these games and we haven't finished
down the stretch, so psychologically, yeah, I'm sure it's tough on
us."

Game notes
Ex-Knick Patrick Ewing received a 30-second ovation from
the fans, who briefly chanted his name. He finished with five
points and four rebounds in 15 minutes. ... Anderson now has the
NBA's longest consecutive games streak, 365 games. ... The Magic
improved to 1-11 when trailing at halftime. ... The Knicks dropped
to 2-6 against teams from the Atlantic Division.