It was the third straight loss for the Knicks, all of them
coming when they failed to convert in the final seconds.
After Mercer made one of two free throws, Kurt Thomas missed a
jumper from the lane, Michael Doleac missed a putback and Houston
shot an off-target 3-pointer just before the final buzzer.
"It's been three straight times we've lost like this and it can
get discouraging," Houston said "I could have made that shot with
my eyes closed. I did not have much time and I didn't get a good
look because of that. Plus, Reggie was running at me."
Houston also had a chance to give the Knicks at least a tie
against Portland on Sunday, but drove in for a short jumper when
they needed a 3-pointer. In a 3-point loss at Orlando on Monday, a
desperation heave by Shandon Anderson fell short.
Brad Miller added 15 points and 11 rebounds and Jermaine O'Neal
had 16 points for the Pacers, who avenged a two-point loss in New
York last Friday and improved to 15-1 at home.
But it wasn't easy.
Thomas took advantage O'Neal's foul problems, scoring 12 of his
24 points in the fourth quarter. After O'Neal was whistled for his
fourth foul with 5:08 left in the third, Thomas -- only 6-for-14
through three quarters _ became New York's' first option. He made
his first six shots of the fourth quarter and blocked one of
Thomas, who scored 33 against Indiana in November, put the
Knicks ahead 84-82 with 4:17 left, but that was their last field
goal for nearly four minutes.
"We were dropping straight back into the lane instead of
dropping back on Thomas," Mercer said. "We adjusted and started
dropping back on him."
Brad Miller's jumper tied the score and Reggie Miller's layup
put the Pacers ahead for good.
Latrell Sprewell, who had 20, had his pass to Thomas broken up
by Erick Strickland. Mercer picked up the loose ball and executed a
perfect 2-on-1 break with Reggie Miller for a layup.
Ward missed 3-pointers on successive possessions before making
one to make it 88-87 with 18 seconds left.
Several Pacers wondered about Ward's shot selection, especially
when Thomas was having success with his jumpers. The weren't the
only ones trying to figure it out.
"It's hard to second-guess now," Knicks coach Don Chaney said.
"He had daylight, and he made the third one. I don't like to
second-guess myself or my players."
Mercer made one of two free throws, setting up New York's final
The Knicks made 12 of their first 18 shots and led 30-20 late in
the first. They took a 50-43 lead into halftime.
New York, however, finished with its third straight loss by
three or less points.
"The guys are not going to get down even though we're not
getting the wins we should be getting," Thomas said.
The Pacers placed forward Austin Croshere on the injured
list with a bruised rib cage and activated forward Jonathan Bender.
...The NBA players association filed an appeal on behalf of Pacers
forward Ron Artest, who was suspended for three games without pay
and fined $35,000 for hurling a television monitor and smashing a
camera after a loss in New York. The union called the penalty
``both excessive and improper.'' ... Indy Racing League president
Tony George was at the game. ... The Knicks are 3-10 on the road.
... Knicks F Clarence Weatherspoon did not travel after having oral
surgery. ... Indiana's Al Harrington fouled out for the second