Nicks turn up the Heat

NBA Playoff Roundup
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The Independent Online

The Knicks and Heat tend to turn their annual National Basketball Association playoff meetings into something resembling football, so it was appropriate that a former gridiron star settled Sunday's game.

Charlie Ward, the 1993 Heisman Trophy winner, scored a career playoff-high 20 points as New York beat Miami 91-83 to even their Eastern Conference semifinal series at 2-2.

Ward scored the Knicks' final nine points, hitting two layups, a jumper and a 3-pointer.

It was just the third time all season he had led the team in scoring, and he also finished with seven rebounds, four assists and three steals.

Allan Houston added 17 points, Latrell Sprewell had 16, and Larry Johnson 13 for the Knicks, who led the entire fourth quarter.

Miami's Alonzo Mourning had 27 points and 14 rebounds, but missed four foul shots in the final 5 1/2 minutes.

Sunday's game was the highest-scoring of a series that has been dominated by defense and featured more than its share of hard fouls. It's the fourth straight year the teams have met in the postseason.

Game 5 is Wednesday in Miami.

Jazz 88, Trail Blazers 85 Karl Malone scored 27 points and John Stockton had 18 as Utah trimmed its deficit in the Western Conference semifinal series to 3-1.

Portland missed a chance to tie at the buzzer when Greg Anthony's 3-point attempt bounced off the rim.

The teams play Tuesday in Portland, where Utah has won once in 15 playoff games and lost 13 straight. No team in NBA history has ever won a seven-game series after trailing 3-0.

Utah played with an intensity it lacked earlier in the series, with the 36-year-old Malone and 38-year-old Stockton displaying the focus that has made them into the team's leaders for years.

Even Olden Polynice, 35, got into the act, scoring 12 points and collecting 11 rebounds as the Jazz avoided being swept for the first time in franchise history. Bryon Russell added 12 points.

Reserve Brian Grant led the Blazers with 20 points and 13 rebounds.

Suns 117, Lakers 98 Jason Kidd had his first playoff triple-double and Cliff Robinson, playing despite a sprained ankle, scored 32 points as Phoenix avoided being swept. It was the most points any team has scored against Los Angeles all season.

Kidd, playing with two screws in the left ankle he broke March 22, had 22 points, a career playoff-high 16 assists and 10 rebounds as the Suns beat the Lakers for the first time in eight tries this season.

Phoenix led by 23 points at halftime and 29 in the third quarter, but the Lakers are still up 3-1 in the series and can end it with a victory at home Tuesday.

Shaquille O'Neal, in foul trouble most of the game, scored 24 points, eight below his playoff average, and was 4-for-12 from the free throw line, 1-for-9 in the first half. He drew his fourth and fifth fouls in a nine-second span and went to the bench with 4:07 left in the third quarter.