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Knicks even series

New York rallies from 18 down and Miami does not score over the final 2:20. Game 7 is Sunday at Miami.

It took an incredible comeback to do it, and that's exactly what New York summoned to send another Knicks-Heat series back to Miami for another winner-take-all, loser-goes-home finale.

Just when it looked like they were dead, the Knicks reached deep down and managed a dramatic rally from an 18-point deficit. Overcoming Miami's relentless defense and their own self-doubts after a miserable first half, the Knicks beat Miami 72-70 Friday night to force Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal on Sunday.

"They were done. They were dead," Miami's Tim Hardaway said. "I knew they were going to give it one last gasp in the second half, and if we had made some shots and kept the lead up going into the fourth, they would have folded. But you've got to give them credit, they did the things they needed to do."

Patrick Ewing scored the Knicks' final basket by dunking an offensive rebound with 1:56 left, and Chris Childs and Allan Houston won it by each making a pair of free throws in the final 91 seconds.

Miami did not score over the final 2:20, and when Anthony Carter's three-point shot missed at the buzzer, the Heat had blown a golden opportunity to get past its biggest rival and move on to the conference final.

"This is what everybody wanted, a Game 7," Alonzo Mourning said. "Now you've got it."

"It was absolute madness," Heat coach Pat Riley said. "Absolutely."

The Knicks won the deciding games in 1998 and 1999 on Miami's home court after losing there in 1997, and now they'll get a chance to do it again.

Houston led the Knicks with 21 points, Latrell Sprewell added 15 and Ewing had 15 points and 18 rebounds.

"This was a great, great comeback," Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy said. "The only thing that makes it really memorable is if it leads to a series win."

The teams tied the league record for fewest combined points in a playoff game, matching the 142 by Atlanta and Detroit last season and Phoenix and San Antonio this year. Miami's 25 points in the second half were two better than the record low of 23 by Utah at Chicago in 1998.

After falling behind less than six minutes into the first quarter, it took the Knicks more than 40 minutes to tie. They finally did so at 70 on two free throws by Childs with 1:31 left.

Carter missed a jumper, Marcus Camby had his shot blocked by Mourning and Ewing then reached in to deflect an entry pass to Mourning, leading to a steal by Childs. New York called timeout with 23.6 seconds left on the game clock and 17 seconds on the shot clock.

Dan Majerle was called for a reach-in foul with 17.6 seconds left and Houston sank both shots, giving the Knicks their first lead since 11-10.

The Heat then got the ball to Mourning in the low post, but he passed out of a double-team and found Carter for the final shot of the game.

When it missed, Madison Square Garden erupted in pandemonium _ as opposite a collective emotion as there could be from the way the crowd felt at halftime.

"The shot felt real good and I thought it was going in," Carter said, "but I shot it a little too long."

"It seemed as the fourth quarter went along we just made bad play after bad play," Miami's P.J. Brown said. "It just kind of mounted, and we couldn't come back from it."