By MARK LONG, AP Sports Writer
May 8, 2000
Miami (AP) Tim Hardaway looked left, then right, checking over both shoulders for any of the New York Knicks. The Miami Heat point guard could not believe he was all alone as he drove toward the basket. Not with his bad knees, and certainly not with his bad ankle.
Hardaway, playing for the first time since April 16, had six points and seven assists Sunday in the Heat's 87-83 victory over New York. Like Hardaway, Knicks center Patrick Ewing overcame an injury to play in Game 1 of the best-of-seven Eastern Conference semifinals. They both proved to be invaluable to their teams.
Ewing played 40 minutes despite having back spasms in practice last week. He had 17 points and nine rebounds.
Hardaway set the tempo for the Heat, getting the ball up court and to an open player. ``Tim, by far, is our floor general,' center Alonzo Mourning said. ``Athletically, he's not where he wants to be. Physically, he's not where he wants to be. But mentally he's there. Based on his experience alone, he's going to do things to help us.' After sitting out the Heat's first-round series against Detroit, Hardaway started and played 30 minutes in Game 1 despite leaving the court for seven minutes in the third quarter.
Hardaway turned his ankle while planting on Charlie Ward's driving layup with about nine minutes to play in the quarter. He limped back to the locker room, where he got the ankle re-taped. ``With one leg or one arm, I still want him on the floor,' Mourning said. ``He's going to get the ball where it needs to be.'
Minutes later, Hardaway was back, giving the Heat a boost with his presence and his play. He had an assist on their first possession, putting Miami ahead 66-63. Down 72-71 in the fourth, he got a steal in the backcourt and dribbled the length of the floor for an uncontested layup. ``I couldn't believe nobody caught me,' Hardaway said.
In the closing minutes of the game, and with Miami leading 83-81, Hardaway tried to seal the victory with two 3-point attempts. But he missed them both. ``I was thinking about doing my T.H. thing,' Hardaway said, poking fun at the ``L' Larry Johnson of the Knicks makes with his arms after he hits a big shot.
Ewing was equally instrumental in keeping his team in the game. His injury was obvious, especially when he wasn't on the court. On the bench, he sat with his back heavily wrapped. ``He looked fine,' Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. On the court, he did. But Ewing picked up his fifth foul with 2:49 to play, and Mourning took advantage of it. Mourning hit two shots in the final minute, both coming against Ewing, that gave Miami the win.
``We beat ourselves,' Ewing said. ``We missed some easy shots that we normally knock down. It's obvious that these two teams are very close. We just needed to execute better down the stretch.' And keep Ewing in the lineup. ``You have to admire his attitude and his determination,' Mourning said. ``That's one of the things I admired when I started watching him at the age of 12. A lot of his determination has rubbed off on me. ``He's got a warrior's mentality.'
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