Knicks tougher down stretch


ATLANTA (AP) -- Clarence Weatherspoon hardly had the look of a
go-to player, with a total of five points in the past three games.

He needed less than eight minutes on Saturday night to beat

Weatherspoon scored a season-high 18 off the bench and Allan
Houston added 24 to lead the New York Knicks to a 95-92 victory
over the Atlanta Hawks.

"I was able to get some open shots on the baseline,''
Weatherspoon said. "If your number is called, you have to go for
the shots.''

Jason Terry missed a 3-pointer from the corner with a couple of
seconds left that would've tied it.

Othella Harrington had all 12 of his points in the second half
for New York, which won for only the second time in five games.

Glenn Robinson finished with 27 for the Hawks, who lost their
fourth straight. They had won two in a row at home.

Trailing 93-92 with 18 seconds left, Atlanta had a chance to
take the lead when Dan Dickau fed Shareef Abdur-Rahim along the
baseline. But Abdur-Rahim, who was only 6-for-16 from the field,
shot an airball from about 10 feet, and New York point guard
Charlie Ward corralled the rebound.

He quickly was fouled and made both free throws, and Terry
missed the tying shot with Ward guarding him.

"Oh, man, I thought it was good,'' Terry said. "I practice
that shot all the time. It looked good, but it just didn't go.''

Weatherspoon, averaging only 5.3 points coming in, replaced
Harrington with 11:16 left in the second quarter. He quickly scored
on a reverse layup, then added two steals before tipping in a miss.

Another reverse layup with 3:49 left in the half gave him six
points, and he added two free throws with 46.5 seconds to go which
gave the Knicks a six-point lead.

"I played with great energy,'' Weatherspoon said. "When I
play, I play. I understand my role.''

In the fourth quarter, he scored eight straight to give the
Knicks an 85-84 lead, their first of the period. He added a jumper
with 2:49 left to boost the margin to five before Atlanta rallied
within one on baskets by Jason Terry and Robinson.

"That's what teams are all about,'' New York coach Don Chaney
said. "Everybody's capable of doing it. We have a lot of guys who
make sacrifices, who can score but give up their game for guys that
we normally go to.

"It's good to see guys who don't get the ball a whole lot get
involved in the scoring. Clarence stepped up.''

The Hawks used a 15-0 run to take a 76-70 lead early in the
fourth, but the Knicks quickly came back and tied it at 77 on a
3-pointer by Ward.

The teams swapped the lead four times down the stretch, before
Ward put New York ahead for good with a jumper that made it 87-86.

"Weatherspoon made some tough, contested shots,'' Atlanta coach
Terry Stotts said. "It's a shame to waste an effort like that and
not come away with a win.''

Latrell Sprewell never found his rhythm, finishing 3-for-13 for
seven points. He was held scoreless in the first half and often
passed up open shots. Houston had the first 11 points of the game
for the Knicks and scored 22 in the first half.

Kurt Thomas added 11 points for New York, and Harrington had 11

Terry finished with 17 points.

Game notes
The Hawks are 3-10 under coach Terry Stotts, who replaced
Lon Kruger on Dec. 26. ... Atlanta had the ball at the start of the
fourth quarter, and ran a play for reserve F Alan Henderson, who
averages 5.3 points. The shot clock eventually ran down, and
Henderson was forced to heave up an off an off-balance shot. The
ball missed the rim, and the Hawks lost possession on a shot-clock
violation. ... Sprewell missed three straight shots in the fourth
quarter, including an airball.