Knicks 102, Wizards 98, OT

Preview | Box Score | Recap

WASHINGTON (AP)— Dikembe Mutombo had been dunked on twice by Etan Thomas and wasn’t about to let it happen again with the game on the line.

Mutombo blocked Thomas’ shot with 35.9 seconds left in regulation, then broke out his trademark finger-wave, helping the New York Knicks get into overtime and beat the Washington Wizards 102-98 on Saturday night.

“I told (Thomas) in the end, I said, ‘Boy, you might get yourself one dunk or two dunks. That doesn’t mean you win the game,”’ Mutombo said. “Who’s going to win the game is going to be more important.”

Saturday’s win proved to be an important for the Knicks, who can finish as no worse than the seventh seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs because of Boston’s loss to Atlanta.

Tim Thomas and DerMarr Johnson each scored 22 points for New York, which had lost four of its last five on the road.

Jarvis Hayes scored 23 to lead Washington, which like New York played without its regulars.

The Wizards played the fourth quarter and overtime without star guards Gilbert Arenas and Larry Hughes, while New York played the same period without star guard Stephon Marbury as well as starters Kurt Thomas and Nazr Mohammed.

“I really wanted the bench to play. I wanted them to be focused and know that while they’re in there, the whole purpose is to win the game and not take anything lightly,” New York coach Lenny Wilkens said. “I felt like I accomplished that.”

Marbury hit just 2-for-10 from the floor and finished with four points.

Michael Sweetney, who finished with 15 points, tied the game at 87 with a reverse layup 10 seconds before Mutombo’s crucial block on Etan Thomas.

In overtime, Frank Williams hit two free throws to put the Knicks ahead 98-96 with 14.5 seconds to play. However, the Wizards had a chance to win with a 3-pointer in the closing seconds for the second straight night, but Steve Blake’s long-range shot with eight seconds to play rattled out.

“They played, and they felt how the end of the game was supposed to feel” said Arenas, who beat Philadelphia at the buzzer on Friday.

However, Arenas couldn’t help but smile when he asked what he thought could have happened had he been in the game.

“I would have made it,” Arenas said. “I was telling coach, I’ve got the hot hand if you need it.”

Etan Thomas and Hayes were the hot hands early for the Wizards.

Hayes scored 14 in the first half, and Thomas got his first dunk over Mutombo on Washington’s first possession of the second quarter. After some extra time hanging on the rim, Thomas earned a technical foul for wagging a finger walking up the floor after the play.

The Wizards led by as many as 12 in the first half, and scored the games first nine points. The Knicks missed their first five shots.

Kurt Thomas gave the Knicks their first lead at 64-63 with 3:08 to play inthe third, but neither team led by more than four in the fourth.

Notes

Washington played without forward Kwame Brown (foot) and guard Jerry Stackhouse (ankle). It was the 52nd game that Stackhouse has missed this season. … New York played without Penny Hardaway, who was not in uniform because of a stomach virus. … Washington has won consecutive games only seventimes this season.

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Top Performers

 Top Performers
 New York
M. Sweetney M. Sweetney
6-9,  15 Pts
12 Rebs, 0 Assists
 Washington
J. Hayes J. Hayes
10-19,  23 Pts
2 Rebs, 5 Assists

Team Stat Leaders

Points
Rebounds
Assists