NEW YORK — To foul or not to foul. That was the question the New York Knicks faced in the final 28 seconds of Game 2 against Miami.
They chose not to, and the strategy backfired when the Miami Heat worked the shot clock all the way down before Jamal Mashburn made a three-point basket with 2.9 seconds left to give them an insurmountable four-point lead in an 88-84 victory Friday night.
"That was one you could definitely second-guess," Coach Jeff Van Gundy conceded Saturday on the eve of Game 3 with the series tied, 1-1.
"That's how I decided to do it. Whether it was right or wrong--obviously it was wrong because it didn't work. But I'd probably do it again."
Van Gundy faced a barrage of questions after practice Saturday about the decision not to foul.
He claimed he hadn't lost any sleep over it, and said he was more upset with his decision not to call a timeout when the Knicks trailed by one with 50 seconds left.
On that possession, the Knicks tried to run a high pick-and-roll play with Chris Childs and Patrick Ewing. But the execution was poor, Ewing was unable to break free of P.J. Brown's clutching defense and Childs eventually drove the baseline and had his layup attempt deflected by Brown.
The Heat rebounded with 28 seconds left and Van Gundy decided right away not to foul.
"I looked up and saw the difference [between the shot clock and game clock] was almost four seconds," Van Gundy said.
"I felt I'd rather rely on our defense to get a stop and a rebound since they were going to keep the ball in the hands of their good free-throw shooters."