By Ben Horney, Knicks fan since '94
14 years ago today, the Knicks became the first eighth-seeded team to ever advance to the Conference Finals with a 79-66 victory over the Atlanta Hawks at Madison Square Garden.
After their first round matchup with the Heat went the distance -- it took all five games and a fortuitous bounce on an Allan Houston runner at the end of Game 5 for the Knicks to sneak into the conference semifinals -- the Knicks handily swept the Hawks, winning each game by at least seven points.
Houston’s 19 points (12 in the first quarter) led the Knicks, followed by Patrick Ewing, who had 17 points and nine rebounds, despite being hampered by various injuries throughout the playoffs. Latrell Sprewell added 11 points off the bench.
That series against the Hawks served as Marcus Camby’s coming out party, as he averaged nine points and six rebounds in 21 minutes per game (he had eight points and three rebounds in 17 Game 4 minutes). After that series, Camby became more of a rotation mainstay, averaging 26, 33 and 35 minutes per game for the Knicks in the next three seasons. Kurt Thomas, who was a true warrior for the Knicks during the 2012-13 campaign, started this '99 affair for the Knicks, and had eight points and six rebounds.
More impressive than the Knicks offense was their defense, which held the Hawks to 29 percent shooting from the field and had seven steals in the win.
Game 4's 13-point victory was the easiest of the series, and the game was never in doubt -- the Knicks led by seven after one, 11 at the half and 15 going into the final period.
The Knicks would go on to beat the Pacers in six games, before ultimately losing in five games in the NBA finals to the Spurs and their two-headed Twin Towers, Tim Duncan and David Robinson.