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Sixers rally at the end to keep the Knicks frustrated

NEW YORK (AP) -- Latrell Sprewell arrived early, entered the game
late and disappeared down the stretch along with the rest of his
team.

Sprewell played his first game of the season, but couldn't
reverse the New York Knicks' slide as the Philadelphia 76ers scored
17 of the final 25 points for a 93-92 victory Saturday.

''C-plus,'' Sprewell said when asked to assess his performance.
''I could have been a lot better.''

The 76ers won on the road for the first time this season, while
the defeat was the fourth in a row for the Knicks. Allen Iverson and
Todd MacCulloch each scored 17 points, Keith Van Horn had 15 points
and 12 rebounds and Eric Snow added 14 points for the 76ers.

The habitually tardy Sprewell arrived at the arena six minutes
before his team's 11:30 a.m. deadline, then made his first
appearance nine minutes into the game -- the first time he came off
the bench since the 1999 playoffs.

Sprewell played 31 minutes and had 16 points on 6-for-15
shooting but was held scoreless for the final 10 minutes.

Howard Eisley had 16 points and 10 assists for the Knicks, whose
1-8 record is the worst in the Eastern Conference.

''We have a whole lot of basketball left,'' Sprewell said. ''If
we give up now, it could get a whole lot worse.''

Sprewell, who missed the first seven weeks of the preseason and
regular season while recovering from a broken hand, scored seven of
his points in a 16-4 run bridging the third and fourth quarters as
New York turned a 63-58 deficit into a 74-67 lead. The rally
injected some life into a crowd that had been waiting nearly all
season for something to cheer.

Sprewell was poised to restore the Knicks' seven-point lead
after he poked the ball away from Snow and went in alone for a
breakaway dunk. But a moment before he jammed the ball with two
hands, Kurt Thomas body checked trailing defender Brian Skinner and
was called for a foul, erasing the basket.

''I'm still mad at Kurt,'' Sprewell said with a laugh.
''Actually, he said he thought (Skinner) was going to foul me.''

Thomas picked up a technical foul for arguing during a timeout
less than a minute later, and Iverson hit the foul shot to cut the
deficit to four. Eisley answered with a 3-pointer and Othella
Harrington hit two foul shots for a 79-70 lead.

It was 84-76 with 6:05 left before the 76ers rallied, holding
New York without a field goal for four minutes and using an 11-2
run to take an 87-85 lead.

Iverson tied it at 89 on two foul shots with 1:52 left. Michael
Doleac missed a jumper and Van Horn scored on a putback, making it
91-89, and Allan Houston missed a jumper from the corner with 30
seconds left.

MacCulloch made one of two from the line with 12.5 seconds left for
a three-point lead, and Eisley rushed an off-target 3-pointer off
the ensuing inbounds pass. The play was designed to be a 3-pointer
by Houston off a pass from Sprewell, but Philadelphia's defense
forced the Knicks to improvise.

Van Horn made a foul shot with 6.3 seconds left for a four-point
lead that sealed the victory.

''A loss like this is tough to take,'' Sprewell said. ''When
you're up by nine with under five minutes, that's a situation you
want to be in. We played well until the final five minutes.''

Game notes
Keith Bishop, a 31-year-old school bus driver from Hudson
Falls, N.Y., hit a shot from halfcourt to win $1 million. He
received a handshake from Iverson and a roar from the crowd that
was many times louder than the cheers that greeted Sprewell when he
checked in for the first time. ... To make room for Sprewell on the
active roster, forward Mark Pope was placed in the injured list. ...
Knicks coach Don Chaney indicated that Charlie Ward (bruised lower
leg) will not return until Friday night at the earliest. ''He's not
close to being ready yet,'' Chaney said. ... Houston missed a free
throw late in the fourth quarter, his first miss after 33
consecutive makes. ... The last time the Knicks were 1-8 was
1985-86.