The Miami-New York series is going to a Game 5, and this year's deciding game will feature fight-related suspensions too.
Alonzo Mourning and Larry Johnson became involved in a nasty altercation with 1.4 seconds left in the Knicks' 90-85 victory Thursday.
Mourning threw the first punch, and he and Johnson threw several more. Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy bolted onto the court and grabbed Mourning's leg, holding on even as he was dragged along the floor.
NBA rules call for an automatic one-game suspension for throwing a punch, so Mourning and Johnson will be forced to sit out Sunday.
It was an incredible ending to another hard-fought, physical game between the bitter rivals, whose second-round series last season featured a brawl at the end of Game 5 that led to five Knicks being suspended for one game.
That incident might have cost the Knicks their season. Now they have a chance to avenge it in the same building.
"I made a big mistake. I let my teammates down," said Mourning, who complained that Johnson had been hitting him all night.
The fight began as Johnson and Mourning jostled violently for position under Miami's basket. As New York rebounded and the players headed upcourt, Mourning swung his right fist at Johnson.
"After a while, you've got to take a stand," Mourning said. "L.J. crossed the line at the end. He threw the last cheap shot. Enough was enough."
Knicks assistants formed a human wall to keep the other players from leaving the bench, and Miami's reserves stayed put as well.
The altercation was broken up after about 30 seconds.
The Knicks limited their turnovers, found open shots and withstood Miami's late charge _ not to mention stayed on the bench during the fight.
Johnson and Houston led New York with 18 points each, John Starks had 17 and Charles Oakley and Chris Childs had 10 each.
The Knicks haven't lost in a first round since being swept by the Chicago Bulls in 1991. Pat Riley, now coach of Miami, arrived in New York the next season.
The Knicks were ahead by at least six points during the fourth quarter until Tim Hardaway stole the ball and hit a three-pointer with 2:31 left to make it 86-81, then hit a 19-footer with 1:33 left to cut the deficit to three.
Miami had a chance to get closer after Chris Dudley missed a 6-footer, but Jamal Mashburn missed inside and Houston converted a fastbreak layup after Starks nearly threw the ball away.
The Heat pulled to 88-85 on two free throws by Mourning, but Hardaway fouled Johnson as the Knicks forward grabbed an offensive rebound with 14.8 seconds left, and Johnson made both shots.
At the start of the second half, Johnson gave the Knicks their first lead since early in the game with a layup over Mourning to start a 15-2 run. Johnson scored eight during the run, which ended with a three-point play by Chris Mills that put the Knicks up 60-49.
Miami came back with 13-2 run to pull within two, but the Heat couldn't tie and fell further behind _ 71-64 entering the fourth _ after Mourning and P.J. Brown each picked up their fourth fouls late in the quarter.
Hardaway scored 14 points in the first quarter on 5-for-7 shooting.