He certainly did.
"When Dice said he was hurting after that timeout, I knew I
would have to step up," said Howard, who was 12-for-19 from the
field. "I just tried to do some things on the offensive and
defensive ends to allow us to stay in the ballgame."
Denver, which had lost eight of its previous nine games, shot 55
percent after making less than 40 percent of its shots in six of
its previous nine games. The Nuggets were 12-for-19 in the first
quarter, when they began a 13-0 run that gave them the lead for
New York has lost eight of 10 games overall and six in a row on
the road. Latrell Sprewell led the Knicks with 23 points. Kurt
Thomas added 17 points and 13 rebounds.
"It is disappointing in that we took a step backward," said
New York's Allan Houston, who had 19 points. "It is disappointing
because you would have thought we would have looked at this game
and been excited and said this is a game we could make a step. But
we didn't take advantage."
New York took a 23-20 lead on an 18-foot jumper by Othella
Harrington with 3:07 left in the first quarter, but the Nuggets
scored the next 13 points. Howard capped the run with a driving
jump hook 15 seconds into the second quarter.
"We can't just go through the motions and expect to win
defensively -- we have to get into people," Knicks coach Don Chaney
said. "We didn't do that at the beginning of the game and that was
the deciding point in the first quarter."
Howard led the Nuggets with 16 points on 6-for-10 shooting in
the first half, but an unlikely source, James Posey, provided the
Posey had a steal, a 3-pointer and a 21-foot jumper in the final
58 seconds of the first quarter, then emphatically blocked a layup
by Sprewell early in the second.
New York chipped the lead to 47-43 on a 3-pointer by Houston
with 2:46 left in the second quarter, but Denver followed with an
8-0 run. Posey capped it with a dunk after a no-look pass from
Posey also had a dunk on a feed from George McCloud with four seconds left to put the Nuggets up 58-48 at halftime. About the
only mistake he made came late in the fourth quarter when he
accidentally kicked Howard in the back of the head.
Posey, who had struggled since Denver's seven-player trade with
Dallas on Feb. 20, finished with 20 points on 8-for-9 shooting.
"He is an energy guy and he has to play with energy and
passion, and when he does that, this is the result of it," Denver
coach Mike Evans said. "It wasn't even the points that he scored
that we were most happy about. It's that he was all over the court
with his defense and he had that great block in the first half."
McDyess, who missed the first 54 games after having knee
surgery, had just two points in eight minutes. He played just 10
minutes against Utah on Monday after tweaking the knee, and didn't
play the final three quarters against New York after experiencing
Nuggets officials listed McDyess as probable for the game Saturday against Portland.
"You knew this was going to happen, that there would be games
where he would have some problems and not be able to play the
amount of minutes we wanted, or not be able to finish," Evans
said. "There will be some games that he won't be able to play in,
but he will continue to work and rehab, and we will see how the
next game goes."
Denver had a season-high 35 assists. Howard's nine assists tied a career high.
Denver's Carlos Arroyo, signed to a 10-day contract before
the game, had two points in six minutes. He was the 21st player to
suit up for Denver this season -- two short of the team record set
in 1996-97. ... New York is 6-21 on the road. ... The Nuggets have
committed 148 fouls in their last five games. ... Howard and
Harrington each got technical fouls midway through the third
period after getting into a pushing match under the basket.