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Knicks find vindication in clutch time at the Garden after 29 years

Knicks find vindication in clutch time at the Garden after 29 years

On May 7, 1995, Indiana Pacers’ Reggie Miller put on one of the NBA's most legendary performances, scoring 8 points in 9 seconds against the New York Knicks to steal a could-have-been win, putting them on the wrong side of history.

It was a heartbreaking loss for the Knicks, who lost Game 1 of the 1995 Eastern Conference Finals at home in Madison Square Garden 107-105. New York already eliminated the Pacers in 1993 and 1994 and coming into their matchup, Indiana was raring to get back at them.

Miller first hit a three with 16.4 seconds to go, and then the Knicks’ Anthony Mason made a costly mistake by inbounding the ball right into Miller’s hands. Greg Anthony, who was supposed to receive the inbounds pass, had slipped and it led to Miller hitting yet another three to tie the game at 105. 

The Knicks got the ball back and had John Starks on the line to take back the lead, but he missed his two free throws allowing the Pacers to get the ball back. Miller sank two free throws and the Knicks could not get a shot off in time as the buzzer sounded, therefore creating Miller’s ‘8 points in 9 seconds’ legend at the Garden.

After 29 years since that heartbreak, luckily New York was on the other side of history this time around.

On Monday night, New York faced the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 2 of their Eastern Conference round 1 clash. With 28 seconds to go and the Sixers up 5, Knicks point guard Jalen Brunson drove into the thick of the defense only to stumble and get stifled by Kyle Lowry and the Sixers’ defense. Teammate Donte DiVincenzo got the ball in the middle of all the action, choosing to back it out. 

Brunson, who has been bothered by Philadelphia’s defense and shooting just 8-29 all game long, got up, relocated to the corner, and the ball eventually went his way. He rose and did a step-back three move on Tyrese Maxey, and the ball barely went down through the rim while bouncing high before eventually dropping down as the Knicks cut the Sixers’ lead to just two, 101-99.

Philadelphia tried to inbound the ball cleanly to Maxey with 27 seconds left on the clock. However, amidst the chaos and the tough defense by Brunson and Josh Hart (with some arguable pushing and shoving and grabbing of jerseys), Maxey slipped on the floor and could not get to the ball. Hart got the steal and sent it right back to DiVincenzo trailing for the three, only to miss.

In an intense series of events, Knicks center Isaiah Hartenstein was the first to the ball, grabbing a huge offensive rebound to give another chance for the Knicks. He kicked it out to OG Anunoby who kicked it right back to DiVincenzo for another three. Splash. Nothing but net. The Knicks now suddenly lead 102-101 with 13.1 seconds remaining, leaving the Sixers befuddled on what just happened. Their 5-point lead suddenly turned to a 1-point deficit in a blink of an eye.

In the next possession, Philadelphia tried to get Maxey going downhill with a backscreen from Embiid. He sprinted down the floor and blew by everybody for the layup until Hartenstein made another big play by trailing down and blocking Maxey’s shot, which sent the Garden into a frenzy. Anunoby made two free throws following the play to extend the Knicks’ lead 104-101.

The Sixers had one last shot at it to tie the game but Embiid missed a three at the buzzer, giving the Knicks one of its best wins in franchise history. A seemingly hopeless situation turned into a blessing with a series of events that will go down as one of the best moments in New York’s lore – putting the team up 2-0 in their best-of-7 series going into Philadelphia.

29 years ago, the Knicks suffered heartbreak. But now 29 years later, they find vindication in an eerily similar play to heal the hearts of the past.



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