Ewing the only star Knicks need

February 03, 1994|By Jerry Bembry | Jerry Bembry,Sun Staff Writer

LANDOVER -- Nothing flashy, nothing exciting. Just a normal evening for the New York Knicks, who simply find a way to get the job done.

In a game in which when one of their two All-Stars took the nighoff, the other, Patrick Ewing, scored 29 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to help New York to an 85-80 win over the Washington Bullets before a crowd of 14,127 at USAir Arena.

It was the sixth straight win for the Knicks, who improved t32-11 -- best in the Eastern Conference. The Bullets lost their third straight and dropped to 14-29 (last in the Atlantic Division) The 80 points established a season low for the Bullets, who had previously scored 82 in a season-opening loss to the Philadelphia 76ers.

In losing their third game of the season to the Knicks, the Bulletshowed just how difficult it is to execute down the stretch without a go-to player. Tied 78-78 after a jumper by Tom Gugliotta with 1 minute, 22 seconds left, the Bullets were unable to get a decent shot when it counted. The Knicks outscored Washington 7-2 in the final 1:06.

"It was tough getting a good shot," Bullets coach Wes Unselsaid of the final minutes.

It wasn't tough to get good shots for Ewing, who made 13 of 2field goals. Matched much of the game against Washington's 7-foot-7 Gheorghe Muresan, Ewing took the rookie outside where he made jumpers the whole game.

"He can hit it," said New York forward Charles Smith, who score13 points. "A lot of times his jump shot is as good as him being in the post. It works."

Fortunately for the Knicks, that part of the all-star tandem was working last night. Ewing, who will make his eighth appearance, was selected as a reserve with teammate John Starks on Tuesday. Starks played like anything but an All-Star, scoring three points while making just one of nine shots. The 6-foot-5 guard didn't play in the fourth quarter.

But the luxury of a having a championship quality team is depthand New York got a quality effort from the reserve backcourt of Rolando Blackman (10 points) and Derek Harper (eight points). With the score tied at 61 going into the final period, the two combined to score New York's first 11 points of the final quarter. Two free throws by Harper with 6:18 left gave New York a 72-69 lead.

Washington responded, cutting New York's lead to 72-71 after a dunk by Muresan and then tying the score at 76 after a layup by Calbert Cheaney with 2:19 left. A layup by Charles Oakley was followed by a jumper by Gugliotta, once again tying the score at 78. But Ewing's jumper from the left side with 1:06 left gave New York an 80-78 lead. The Knicks were able to close out the game from the free-throw line, making five of six on their way to victory.

The Bullets were hurt by poor shooting (36.0 percent). Washington had a 43-41 rebounding edge, but totaled just 13 assists against the smothering New York defense.

"It was tooth and nail the whole way, and we wanted to take thscorers they have left [Don MacLean and Rex Chapman are still out with injuries] out of the game," New York coach Pat Riley said. "Charles Smith did a good job on Googs (Gugliotta, who was 7 of 20), and Rolando came in and contained Cheaney in the second half."

Gugliotta's 18 points led the Bullets, and Cheaney had 15. Bufor the third straight game, Muresan came through with an impressive effort. The rookie center scored a career-high 15 points and grabbed seven rebounds in 24 minutes.

"I think he can be a good player," Ewing said. "He's got a greatouch, and he makes foul shots, so there's no cheap ones with him. He plays hard, and with a lot of emotion."

And, again, he played better statistically than Kevin Duckworthwho scored two points on 1-of-9 shooting. Duckworth did grab nine rebounds in his 24 minutes.

Asked whether there would be any thought of starting MuresanUnseld said: "Gheorghe played 24 minutes. I don't know how many more minutes he can play. He might be able to play 48 for all I know. We'll be finding things out."

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