The New York Knicks broke the rules to get extra preparation for the Cleveland Cavaliers, and all they got out of it was a $10,000 fine.
Reserve guard John Battle scored nine points in 91 seconds Thursday night at New York to lead the Cavaliers to a 110-103 victory. It was the seventh victory in a row for the Cavaliers and only the second loss in 14 home games for the Knicks.
The NBA has a rule that no teams may practice on Christmas or New Year's Day. The Knicks practiced and were fined.
The Knicks, after trailing by 15 points in the third quarter, pulled to within two points, 89-87, with 5 1/2 minutes left. It was then that Battle, the No. 4 guard, broke the game open and gave Cleveland a 100-91 lead.
The Knicks' Xavier McDaniel scored 13 of his 27 points in the fourth quarter.
Poor shooting killed the Knicks. The team shot 39.8%, but off the bench they were nine for 32 for 28%.
"I like our team, but we have plenty of room for growth," Cavalier Coach Lenny Wilkens said.
"This is another giant step for us. We're still maturing and growing."
The Knicks lost despite outrebounding the Cavaliers, 51-38.
"The reason we lost was our shooting," said Patrick Ewing, who had 22 points and 14 rebounds. "We were aggressive and had a lot of offensive rebounds. We just kept missing our follows."
Atlanta 123, Phoenix 105--Another spectacular performance by Dominique Wilkins cooled off the Suns at Atlanta.
Wilkins had 39 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists and the Hawks led from start to finish.
It was the second victory in a row after four losses for the Hawks.
The Suns have been playing as well as any team except Chicago. The loss, only their second in the last 16 games, ended a five-game winning streak.
Wilkins, who had only 19 points in his previous outing, was 15 for 26. He had six points in a 9-0 spurt late in the game to end a Suns' rally that cut a 16-point deficit to eight.
The Hawks stopped the Suns' high-scoring guards. Kevin Johnson had nine points and Jeff Hornacek 15.
"The Hawks did everything better than we did," said Tom Chambers, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds for the Suns.
Milwaukee 92, Minnesota 91--The Timberwolves overcame a 29-13 deficit to take a 90-85 lead with 1:44 left at Minneapolis.
But they scored only one more point and fell to 4-24. Thurl Bailey, who missed a short jumper, made one of two free throws after a tip-in, and a three-point shot by Dale Ellis tied the score, 90-90. But Bailey fouled Jay Humphries with seven seconds left and the Buck guard sank both shots.
The Timberwolves had one more chance to win. But Sam Mitchell, driving to the basket, lost the ball out of bounds.
Utah 107, Portland 103--Ty Corbin scored six points in the last minute at Salt Lake City and helped the Jazz overcome a five-point deficit in the last seven minutes.
Corbin, who had 10 of his 15 points in the fourth quarter, sank an 18-footer with 13 seconds left to put Utah ahead for good, 105-103.
The Trail Blazers' Karl Malone was 11 for 19 and had 30 points and 12 rebounds. Clyde Drexler was nine for 28 and scored 21 points.
The Trail Blazers, 6-6 on the road, fell two games behind Golden State in the Pacific Division. The Jazz, 11-1 at home, increased its lead in the Midwest Division to 2 1/2 games.
Detroit 106, Houston 83--Piston Coach Chuck Daly told Orlando Woolridge recently that he wanted him to try to do more.
Woolridge responded at Houston with one of his finest games of the season, sinking 10 of his 17 shots for 26.
While Bill Laimbeer was harassing Hakeem Olajuwon into an off night, the Pistons jumped ahead early and didn't let up. They led, 50-36, at halftime and never let the Rockets in the game.
Olajuwon, in 37 minutes, was only six for 18 and had 16 points. He did have 12 rebounds, but so did Laimbeer, who scored 12.
Seattle 113, Miami 109--Ricky Pierce had 34 points at Seattle and the SuperSonics, after blowing a 12-point lead, had to beat back the stubborn Heat in overtime.
Golden State 125, Denver 111--Chris Mullin had 27 points and Tim Hardaway 26 at Oakland to help the Warriors pull away from the Nuggets in the last quarter.
Dikembe Mutombo led the Nuggets with 29 points.