Originally created 05/01/00

Knicks sweep Raptors, will face Heat

TORONTO -- Larry Johnson had no trouble picking a nickname for the shot of the game, a 3-pointer that banked in off the backboard from a nearly straight-away angle.

"The lucky one," he called it.

Johnson's 3-pointer with 24.2 seconds left Sunday led the Knicks to an 87-80 victory over the Toronto Raptors in the first NBA playoff game in Canada.

New York completed a three-game sweep to advance to the second round against its bitterest rival -- the Miami Heat.

"Definitely, the gods were with me," Johnson said. "I didn't call a bank on that one."

The Knicks and Heat will meet in the playoffs for the fourth straight season. This time, both teams are coming off 3-0 first-round victories.

"It's going to be a war going up against with those guys," Johnson said. "My four years here we've played them four times in the playoffs, and we're looking forward to this challenge."

The Knicks had to work hard for this one, just as they did in the first two games of the series, and the difference came down to which team could make the right decisions and sink the key shots in the final minute.

Allan Houston, who led New York with 23 points, made the first one when he sank a 21-foot jumper with 44 seconds left for an 82-78 lead. After two free throws by Antonio Davis, Johnson's 3-pointer slammed off the backboard and went right through the net without touching the rim.

"I said to him: Did you call glass? And he said no," Toronto's Vince Carter said. "That's tough to swallow that shot. That's a shot you make in H-O-R-S-E. He makes that shot at a crucial point in the game, it's tough to come back from."

Upon making the shot, Johnson pointed his first at his right elbow -- his "Big L" gesture that has returned to fashion after a one-year absence. Only this time, the "L" might just as well have stood for "Lucky" than "Larry."

"I thought it was good when I let it go," Johnson said. "It hit the glass and went in. I'll take it. I'll take it."

Carter and Dee Brown missed shots on Toronto's next possession, and Chris Childs locked up the victory by making two free throws with 11.8 seconds left.

Timberwolves -- 94
Trail Blazers -- 87

MINNEAPOLIS -- Terrell Brandon scored 28 points and shut down Damon Stoudamire as the Minnesota Timberwolves staved off elimination with a victory over the Portland Trail Blazers.

Brandon helped hold Stoudamire, his pal from their hometown of Portland, to two free throws, 14 points below his playoff average.

Kevin Garnett, who has just two triple-doubles in five NBA seasons, had his second triple-double in a week with 23 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists as the Wolves pulled to 2-1 in the best-of-five series.

Game 4 is Tuesday night at Target Center.

Only four teams have overcome a 2-0 deficit since 1984, when the league adopted the best-of-five format for the first round of the playoffs.

Playing just their second home game in three weeks, the Wolves did what they couldn't do in Portland: stifle Scottie Pippen (16 points), execute down the stretch and curb their mistakes against the more experienced Blazers.

The teams combined for just 13 turnovers, setting an NBA playoff record.

Steve Smith scored 22 points for the Blazers.

Kings -- 99
Lakers -- 91

SACRAMENTO, Calif. -- Shaquille O'Neal lost his shooting touch. Kobe Bryant was slowed by foul trouble. And, suddenly, the mighty Los Angeles Lakers were not invincible.

Chris Webber had 29 points and the Sacramento bench finally came alive, sparking an 18-4 run in the fourth quarter, as the Kings defeated the Lakers to stay alive in the playoffs.

The Lakers won the first two games by comfortable margins in Los Angeles and Game 4 in the best-of-five series is Tuesday night at Sacramento.

O'Neal had 21 points and 17 rebounds, but went 8-for-22 from the field and 5-for-14 from the foul line. Bryant, who picked up his fourth foul early in the third period, had 16 of his 35 points in the fourth quarter.

Predrag Stojakovic had 19 points and Tony Delk added 11 as the Kings' self-proclaimed "Bench Mob," which had little success in the first two games of the series, outscored the Lakers' reserves 34-11.


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