Miami Heat pushed the New York Knicks to the brink of elimination with an 87-81 victory in Game Five of the NBA Eastern Conference semifinals.
Neither of the two teams has beaten the other two straight times in the postseason since the end of their 1998 series, yet that is exactly what Miami will be trying to do Friday when the series resumes at Madison Square Garden.
Heat's Dan Majerle shot two three-pointers and led the Knicks 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.
"Someone's got to step up," Majerle said of his effort. "My main concern in this series is to play hard defense and hit the shots when I get them. These kind of series, somebody's got to step up and make those big shots."
A jumper by Houston -- his only basket of the final period -- pulled New York within 74-70 with 2:54 left.
A basket by Patrick Ewing and two free throws by Houston made it 80-77 with 56 seconds remaining. The Heat swung the ball into the left corner to Bruce Bowen, who drilled a three-pointer to seal it with 35 seconds to play.
Jamal Mashburn scored 21 points and Alonzo Mourning added 18 for Miami, which can return to the conference finals for the first time since 1997 with a win in New York in Game Six on Friday. The Heat were eliminated by the Knicks in the first round in each of the last two years.
Sprewell scored 24 points for the Knicks, who reached the NBA Finals last year and have not lost back-to-back playoff games to the Heat since 1997 - (Several Sources)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)