For Bulls, silent whistles prove golden

June 04, 1993|By Alan Goldstein | Alan Goldstein,Staff Writer

NEW YORK -- Was New York Knicks forward Charles Smith fouled or did the Chicago Bulls make a defensive stand worthy of The Alamo? Roll the videotape and let the endless debates begin.

The question of the hour, and, perhaps, a long frustrating summer for Knicks fans, was whether Smith should have drawn a whistle from one of the three referees as Horace Grant, Michael Jordan and Scottie Pippen took turns either blocking his point-blank shots or stripping the ball in the closing seconds of Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday night.

Silence proved golden to the Bulls, whose stand salvaged what turned out to be a 97-94 victory, giving them a 3-2 lead in the series and a chance to wrap it up on their home court tonight.

To no one's surprise, the Knicks and Bulls saw the final frantic sequence quite differently.

"I saw a foul on everybody," Knicks guard John Starks said. "Smith's first, second or third shot -- you choose. But it wasn't called."

Added Knicks forward Anthony Mason: "I was right behind Smith, and what I saw was a foul. Everyone waited for a whistle."

"Charles was definitely fouled," said Knicks center Patrick Ewing, "but why cry over spilled milk?"

Call Bulls center Bill Cartwright to the witness stand.

"I saw the whole thing," he said. "We basically didn't want Smith to get the shot. Scottie blocked it twice, and Horace got in there and made the outlet pass that led to [B. J.] Armstrong's last basket."

Next witness, please.

"I just thought we played great defense," said Pippen. "In fact, I thought Smith might have traveled after his first shot."

And how did the man himself see it? "You'll just have to look at the replay and judge for yourself," said Smith, who slammed the ball in frustration after the final buzzer.

"We're not going to complain. We've been in tough situations as a team throughout the season, and the last thing we're going to do now is cry and beg for help.

"If I had to do it all over again, I wouldn't change anything," Smith said. "I'd just go after the ball and try to stick it in the same way."

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