The Knicks-Pacers rivalry rumbled back to life Tuesday night.
"I've known about the rivalry, anybody that knows basketball knows about the Knicks-Pacers rivalry," Latrell Sprewell said. "But to be a part of it was a lot different and a lot more fun. It was great."
The first meeting of the season between the two intense rivals came down to the final shot after Ewing misfired an awkward, backward attempt with 27 seconds left.
Reggie Miller missed a corner jumper with 6 seconds left, Travis Best missed an 18-foot jumper with 3 seconds remaining and Al Harrington's tip rimmed out just before the buzzer, allowing the Knicks to avoid dropping to 0-5 in one-point games.
"To win one I think gives you an extra boost -- even more than a 10-point win," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "We can build on it."
Ewing's 37 points came on 14-for-24 shooting and were his most since scoring 39 against Boston on March 7, 1997. Sprewell added 18, including New York's final four, and Allan Houston had 17. Ewing also grabbed 15 rebounds.
Miller scored 1to lead the Pacers, who had five players with at least 13 points.
The Ewing-Rose altercation came late in the second quarter with the Knicks leading 46-44.
After Ewing knocked rose to the floor while going for a rebound, Rose stuck his foot out and tripped Ewing as he ran upcourt.
| Patrick Ewing slugs it out with Dale Davis as Jalen Rose is restrained by the official. (AP)|
Referee Dick Bavetta called a foul and stepped between the two, and Rose hit Bavetta square in the nose with a forearm as Ewing walked toward him in a threatening manner.
"I took it personal the way he threw me to the ground, and he took it personal the way I stuck out my foot after he walked over me," Rose said.
Ewing never threw any punches, but it appeared that he whacked Van Gundy in the face after the coach ran at Ewing and tried to keep him from fighting.
"I wanted to smack (Rose), but I didn't want to get suspended," Ewing said.
Rose ended up with an automatic ejection for a punching foul, each player drew a technical and Bavetta had a bloody nose. The referee, who was examined by the Knicks' trainer, continued to work and was scheduled to have his possibly broken nose X-rayed after the game.
"I didn't throw a punch," Rose insisted afterward. "We both clearly had opportunities to throw punches at one another if we chose to, and I don't think either one of us chose to."
After Indiana came back from an early nine-point deficit, the game stayed close the rest of the way.
A jumper by Sprewell with two seconds left in the third quarter gave New York a 74-73 lead entering the fourth, and neither team led by more than four points until Dale Davis hit a free throw with 3:29 left to put Indiana ahead 91-86.
A tip by Ewing, a jumper by Miller and two foul shots by Houston made it 93-90 heading inside the final two minutes.
Miller missed a jumper with 1:30 left, and Sprewell grabbed the rebound and sprinted downcourt for a lauyup over Miller that cut the Knicks' deficit to one. The Pacers missed three shots on their next possession, and Sprewell made two foul shots after being fouled on the rebound.
That put New York ahead 94-93, and Miller lost the handle on Indiana's next possession before the Pacers could attempt a shot.
After a timeout, Ewing got the ball in the low post and flipped it over his shoulder while standing with his back to the basket, apparently thinking he would draw a foul. But none was called, giving the Pacers their final three chances.
"If it had gone in, we would hae come in disappointed again, but we would have stuck together as a team and tried to pick one another up," Sprewell said.
- Indiana's loss, combined with Orlando's victory over New Jersey, dropped the Pacers 1½ games behind the Magic for the best record in the Eastern Conference.
- Van Gundy altered the Knicks' starting lineup for the second straight game, replacing Kurt Thomas with Chris Dudley.
- Ewing hasn't scored 40 or more points since Jan. 19, 1996, when he had 41 against Seattle.
- The Pacers were playing their third game in three nights, their second such span of the season.
- Charlie Ward had seven points, seven assists, six rebounds and four steals for New York.
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