Banged up and under fire for their poor play, the New York Knicks responded the only way they can these days.
From the outside.
Frontcourt players Marcus Camby, who is suffering from tendinitis in his left knee, and Larry Johnson, who was placed on the injured list prior to Saturday's game with back spasms, each missed time on the trip and were again not able to go against Orlando.
To make up for that loss of an inside presence, Houston, Sprewell and Chris Childs took matters into their own hands.
Houston and Sprewell became the first Knicks to score 30 points apiece in the same game since Jan. 9, 1994, and Childs broke out of a season-long slump with 15 points 13 of them coming in the second half.
"I haven't played worth a darn since training camp," said Childs, who made all three 3-pointers he attempted. The most crucial of them came with 48.6 seconds to go, giving New York a 93-92 lead and firing up the Madison Square Garden crowd.
"I've let the team down," he added. "I wasn't putting forth the effort I was used to."
After Childs' 3-pointer, Orlando's Pat Garrity quickly answered with a 15-footer to put the Magic back in front.
The New York Knicks held off the Orlando Magic 99-96.(AP)
Despite his heroics, Houston deflected the praise to his teammate.
"It was fun to see Childs hit that shot and see our team get emotional again," he said. "It's a win all of us can take advantage of. It makes a difference when you can win close games."
Garrity then missed a 15-footer with eight seconds remaining before the chase for the loose ball deflected off Abdul-Wahad. Sprewell was fouled and made both of his free throws to extend the margin to three before Darrell Armstrong and Houston traded free throws for the final margin.
Chucky Atkins' halfcourt heave bounced off the rim as time expired.
Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, who ripped into his team during its road trip for lackadaisical play, was much more satisfied with Saturday's effort, especially from Childs.
"He played with greater force and will," Van Gundy said. "He made open shots, drove, I thought he got guys the ball. I just thought he was terrific in all ways."
Orlando coach Doc Rivers, who played for New York for two seasons, was pleased with his team's hustle and enjoyed his return to the Garden.
"This is basketball," said Rivers, who is in his first year at the helm of the Magic. "This is the only place left that has any feeling when you walk out, the electricity, you can feel it."
The contest was close throughout with 21 lead changes and six ties. New York shot 60 percent from the field in the first quarter, but could only muster a one-point lead and fell behind 50-49 at the half.
Orlando use a 10-0 spurt between the second and third quarter to take a 54-49 advantage with 11:09 left.
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