Heat 87, Knicks 81
MIAMI (AP) _ The Miami Heat moved within one victory of winning their annual tug of war with the New York Knicks and defeating their fiercest rival for the first time in four years.
Getting two clutch late 3-pointers from Dan Majerle and another from Bruce Bowen, the Heat defeated the New York Knicks 87-81 Wednesday night to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals.
Neither of the teams has beaten the other two straight times in the postseason since the end of their 1998 series, and that is exactly what Miami will try to do Friday night when the series resumes at Madison Square Garden.
To do so, they may need a surprise outburst like the one they got from Majerle, who hadn’t cracked double figures in the series since Game 1.
On a night when Jamal Mashburn scored 21 points and Alonzo Mourning chipped in 18 for the Heat before fouling out, it was Majerle’s 16 that made the difference. Six of them came on consecutive 3-pointers _ one of which was a heave from 27 feet as the shot clock expired _ to open a seven-point lead with 1:42 left that was too much for the Knicks to overcome.
Bowen’s 3-pointer with 35 seconds left was the final blow the Heat needed.
Of the 100 previous best-of-seven series that have been tied 2-2, the team that won Game 5 has gone on to win the series 84 times. That strong statistic now favors the Heat, whose series with the Knicks went the distance in 1997, 1998 and 1999.
Majerle finished 5-for-7 from the field with five rebounds, helping Miami win the rebounding battle for the fifth straight game. P.J. Brown grabbed seven offensive rebounds _ two more than all the Knicks combined, while Tim Hardaway played perhaps his best game of the series with 12 points, four assists and just one turnover.
Latrell Sprewell had 24 points to lead the Knicks, who got just seven points from their reserves and could not find an offensive rhythm all night.
Chris Childs hit a 3-pointer to make it a three-point game with 14 seconds left, but Mashburn hit two from the free throw line, Sprewell missed a 3-pointer and Majerle knocked down two more free throws with seven seconds left to wrap it up.