Hawks 102, Knicks 97
NEW YORK (AP) _ When the Knicks were setting up for a game-tying play, Lenny Wilkens was ready for them.
More specifically, the Atlanta Hawks coach knew New York center Patrick Ewing sometimes came out to take an inbounds pass and set up a 3-point shooter. And that’s exactly what the Knicks were planning to do Tuesday night in overtime, before Craig Ehlo got in the way.
Ehlo broke up Ewing’s pass and made two free throws with 10.2 seconds left in the extra period as the Hawks ended the Knicks’ five-game winning streak with a 102-97 victory.
``Craig made a great play,″ Wilkens said.
Ewing scored a season-high 35 points and had 10 rebounds, but made the pass that Ehlo intercepted in the backcourt as Ewing was trying to set up Derek Harper for the 3-pointer. Ehlo made off with the ball, Ewing was forced to foul him and the Hawks reserve made both free throws to seal Atlanta’s seventh win in 10 games.
``It was an easy play to read,″ Ehlo said. ``I saw the ball going to Patrick and I was switching anyway on the play. I just anticipated the situation.″
Steve Smith led the Hawks with 25 points, including three of Atlanta’s seven in overtime. His free throw with 11.3 seconds left gave the Hawks a 3-point edge before Ehlo’s defensive play won it for them.
The Knicks were cold during overtime, shooting 1-for-8, but Atlanta shot almost as poorly, missing 7-of-9. For the game, both teams shot 41 percent.
``When two teams play good defense, it’s not going to be pretty,″ Wilkens said.
Worse than the shooting, however, was the Knicks’ failure to hustle, Ewing said.
``We were a step slow tonight,″ he said. ``We let them get all the loose balls. It seemed like every ball that was loose or a long rebound, they got them.″
The Knicks had 19 turnovers in the game, leading to 26 Hawks points.
After the Hawks scored the first four points of the extra period, Ewing pulled the Knicks to 99-97 on a 10-footer. Smith increased Atlanta’s margin when he made one of two free throws with 11.3 seconds left to put the Hawks up 100-97.
After going scoreless for 4:18 in the fourth quarter, the Hawks forced overtime on two consecutive baskets by Mookie Blaylock, the last putting Atlanta up 95-93. Ewing tied the game again with a pair of free throws with 52.9 seconds left.
After a timeout, Smith missed a running jumper in the lane and Ewing grabbed the rebound with 3.6 seconds to play and called timeout. The best shot the Knicks could get was Derek Harper’s 25-foot air ball as time expired.
The Hawks took a 90-83 lead with 6:18 on Smith’s jumper. But the Knicks then held Atlanta scoreless for 4:18 while scoring 10 consecutive points, going up 93-90 on Mason’s free throw with 2:21 to play.
Blaylock scored 15 points.
For the Knicks, Anthony Mason had 15 points and 12 rebounds. New York was hurt by its guards, John Starks and Harper, who shot a combined 6-of-23.
After shooting poorly in the first quarter, the Hawks came back to put together a 20-6 run that turned a 8-point deficit into a 44-38 lead. Spud Webb sparked the spurt, scoring a season-high 13 points in the second quarter alone.
His driving layup with 2.6 seconds left put Atlanta up 48-45 at halftime.
Ewing had 15 and Mason 14 in the half.
Ewing’s three-point play gave New York a 61-58 lead with 6:12 left in the third quarter. But less than a minute later he was on the bench with four fouls. Atlanta outscored the Knicks 15-9 the rest of the period, with Smith contributing 10 points in the final 3:40 to help the Hawks to a 73-70 lead going into the final quarter.
Smith, a guard who’s 6-foot-8, gave the Knicks matchup problems until coach Don Nelson put 6-7 Anthony Mason on him in the fourth quarter.
``Steve has a long body,″ Harper said. ``He’s very big for any kind of guard. They ran a spread offense with him in the middle creating things. He was hard to stop.″