- The Washington Times - Sunday, January 12, 2003

NEW YORK There are no secrets to what the New York Knicks like to do. They want to spread the court and get good, open looks for their two key players, Latrell Sprewell and Allan Houston. After all, that was the formula the Knicks had used the night before when they got a combined 62 points from the two.
The Washington Wizards were surprised by none of this last night in their first visit this season to Madison Square Garden, a big reason why they rebounded from an ugly loss the night before to defeat the Knicks 89-84. This time Houston and Sprewell saw their production drop precipitously to 35 points.
"We were hoping that if we could do a good job on their perimeter that we could find a way to win, and we did," Wizards coach Doug Collins said. "Allan and Sprewell were 11-for-37 and the Knicks were 6-for-20 from 3 [-point range], which was critical. We wanted to make sure that we really got up on those guys on the perimeter, and we did."
This was most evident at the end of the game, when Jerry Stackhouse was enough of an irritant on Houston's 12-footer in the lane with 5.1 seconds left and the Knicks down 85-84.
On the play, Stackhouse wanted to force Houston to his left. But Houston was able to get where he wanted to go and got the shot off.
"He gave me a nice head fake and I tried to make a conscious effort to stay down," said Stackhouse, who finished with 22 points, second on the Wizards to Michael Jordan's 23.
"I didn't think they would call a foul. I was trying to force him left, and for some reason he wanted to go back that way. I think he kind of lost control of it, and that affected his shot."
The Wizards won because they got to the free throw line and did the things they are supposed to do. Washington made 26 of 30 free throws and in the fourth quarter was 12-for-12. The Knicks made 14 of 18 overall.
"We want to get to the line as much as possible," said Jordan, who was 8-for-25 from the field. He also had 10 rebounds.
The Wizards had a variety of nice contributions in an important game that saw them climb to 19-18 overall and take over what would be the seventh spot in the Eastern Conference if the playoffs began today. The Wizards jumped ahead of Orlando (19-19), which was idle.
Charles Oakley had six points for the Wizards, all as the game was being decided down the stretch. They also got eight points and a team-high 11 rebounds from Christian Laettner.
"It was good to see a lot of guys contributing tonight," said Collins, who will give the Wizards their first day off in about three weeks today. "It was a nice way to come back after a loss that we really felt. That's the key in this league. You have to be able to move on after a setback and pick up. We did that tonight.
Collins was referring to the Wizards' home loss against Golden State on Friday night that ended Washington's five-game winning streak. In that game, the Wizards were pounded mercilessly on the boards.
Houston led the Knicks (13-21) with 22 points, but he was just 8-for-24 from the floor. Sprewell added 13 points but was 3-for-13 from the field.
The Knicks, like the Wizards, were playing their second game in as many nights. The Knicks were coming off of an uplifting victory over Philadelphia, but now they are 0-7 in the second games of back-to-backs this season.
However, the Knicks took Wizards to the wire. New York led 84-81 after Howard Eisley's 3-pointer with 21.9 seconds left.
That lead soon disappeared when Stackhouse, fouled by Othella Harrington while driving to the basket with 17.6 seconds to play, sank a pair of free throws to give the Wizards an 85-84 lead.
The Wizards closed out the scoring by knocking down big free throws, two by Oakley and two by Stackhouse.

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