Raptors facing extinction

Toronto can't beat buzzer; Knicks take 2-0 series lead

Posted: Thursday, April 27, 2000

NEW YORK -- Latrell Sprewell took Vince Carter one-on-one, and Carter took a pass on taking the last shot.

Sprewell outdid Carter down the stretch Wednesday night, scoring 13 of New York's final 17 points -- including the game- winner with 7.9 seconds left -- as the Knicks came back from a 14-point, fourth quarter deficit to beat Toronto 84-83.

Carter had a chance to take the final shot, and he planned to put it up when he left his feet from 25 feet away with three seconds left. But at the last split second, he changed his mind and passed to Dee Brown for an open 3-pointer from the wing.

The shot was long, the Knicks rebounded and walked off with a 2-0 lead in the best-of-five series.

''I was feeling confident, but looking out of the corner of my eye Dee was wide open,'' Carter said. ''He's a great shooter and you take your chances.''

Sprewell finished with 25 points and combined with Larry Johnson to score 21 of the Knicks' final 25. Game 3 is Sunday in Toronto.

Carter rebounded from his ghastly 3-for-20 effort in Game 1 and led the Raptors with 27 points, but he was unable to stop Sprewell man-to-man on defense as New York kept running the same play in the final few minutes.

On the deciding play, Sprewell got the ball isolated on the right wing against Carter -- playing with five fouls -- and drove to his right, pulling up in the lane for a short jumper that gave the Knicks their first lead since the second minute of the game.

''I'm sitting there with the ball in my hands with about 14 seconds left, looking at the clock and looking at the defense and seeing if they were going to double-team or leave me single covered,'' Sprewell said. ''With about nine seconds left I saw they weren't coming.

''He left me the middle and I wasn't settling for the jumper. I was going to the basket.''

With teammates hugging him at midcourt while Toronto called timeout, Sprewell pleaded with them to play defense, yelling ''One stop!''

The Raptors were able to inbound to Carter, who won four games during the regular season with buzzer-beating shots. But his in-air decision to pass to Brown turned out to be the wrong one.

''I want the ball in that situation, I just didn't hit the shot,'' Brown said. ''It was a good look, Vince gave me a good pass. It was make or break. If you make it, it's 1-1, but instead it's 0-2.''

Trail Blazers 86, Timberwolves 82

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Scottie Pippen scored nine of his 21 points in the fourth quarter, including the clinching free throw with 7.9 seconds left as Portland took a 2-0 lead.

Arvydas Sabonis added 19 points and Damon Stoudamire had 13 for the Trail Blazers, but it was Pippen's play in the final seconds that won it.

After Stoudamire hit two free throws with 15.4 seconds left for an 85-82 lead, the Timberwolves got the ball to Malik Sealy. Pippen was all over him, and Sealy's 3-point try was long and to the right off the glass.

Pippen, who scored a season-high 28 points in the Blazers' Game 1 victory Sunday, ran down the rebound, got fouled and made one of two free throws to seal it.

Kevin Garnett, who was just 6-of-20 from the field in Game 1, had 23 points on 8-of-16 shooting.

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