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Sprewell Injury Has Turned Knicks Into M*A*S*H Unit

Pro basketball: Game 3's high scorer has a broken bone in his left foot, but he'll try to play in Game 4 today.


NEW YORK — If losing players is actually beneficial, the New York Knicks, trailing 2-1 in the Eastern Conference finals, could be in even better shape for today's Game 4.

Not only will Patrick Ewing and Marcus Camby decide at game time whether they can play, but Latrell Sprewell, the high scorer in Game 3 with 32 points, has a broken bone in his left foot behind the little toe, although he insists he'll play. He missed practice Sunday to get an MRI, which revealed an "incomplete fracture."

"It's sore today," Sprewell said. "And I can't walk on it good. I think I'll be able to play. . . . .

"Yeah I'm concerned, but I'm hoping for the best."

Indiana Coach Larry Bird had his players watch the film of Game 3 but otherwise gave them the day off, after playing creaky Rik Smits 40 minutes in

Game 2, Jalen Rose for 41 and Reggie Miller for 37.

Bird thinks his players let down when Camby suffered a sprained knee and joined Ewing, who has a foot injury, on the sideline and hopes they're more focused today.

"It's unfortunate but that's the nature of this team," Bird said Sunday. "I mean, they [the Pacers] have played [when the Knicks were] without Patrick before, but when Marcus went down, I think it did something to these guys. Plus our bench gave us nothing. . . . If we could have got that game, we had 'em [the Knicks] in a world of hurt. But now, we've got to come in here and play these guys again, it's going to be a battle. Like I told the players, I said, 'I've never come to New York, to Madison Square Garden and heard a crowd as soft as this crowd was [Saturday].'

"I've never seen it. And I'll never see it again, I can guarantee you that."

Pacer reserve forward Austin Croshere, who has made one shot since scoring 22 points in Game 1, said he was disappointed at playing only 13 minutes in Game 3. "Well," said Bird, laughing, "he shouldn't have played any. I have a lot of confidence in Austin. I've seen him go up and down. He wasn't into it very much when he was out there. I could tell. He just looked out of sync. But Austin, I believe in him and he'll play more minutes, that's just the way it is."

Bird and Ewing became friends as teammates on the 1992 Dream Team at the Barcelona Olympics. Even if it makes the Knicks tougher, Bird says he'd like to see Ewing playing now.

"I've known Patrick, played against him, played with him," Bird said. "I want to see Patrick Ewing have an opportunity to win a championship. . . . .

"I want the Pacers to win, there's no question about that. I want Patrick Ewing to have an opportunity, just like everyone else, to win a championship."

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