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Quick substitution saves New York

By Associated Press
Published December 21, 2003

NEW YORK - Don Chaney yanked Howard Eisley and inserted Frank Williams early in the third quarter, a snap coaching decision that may have saved Chaney's job.

Williams had four of his career-high nine assists in a 15-0 third-quarter run that gave New York the lead for good in a 103-92 victory over the Hawks on Saturday night.

"That's probably the quickest I've ever taken a guy out, but we needed the win," Chaney said.

The victory was the third in 11 games for the Knicks (10-18), whose coach reportedly is in danger of being fired if the team continues to languish amid the lower half of the woeful Atlantic Division.

Chaney gave an impassioned defense of himself before the game, saying he doesn't want or need reassurances from management.

"When I woke up this morning I didn't care one way or another what my situation was because I could be fired at any time, or I could stay on," Chaney said after improving his Knicks coaching record to 67-106. "I thought they came out and competed, and that's all I ask of them. The reason why? I don't know."

Keith Van Horn scored 11 of his 20 in the fourth quarter, and Allan Houston added 20 for New York. Williams had nine assists, all but two coming in the second half when he played the majority of the minutes at point guard.

Chaney turned to Williams just 2:46 into the second half after Eisley had a shot blocked by Jason Terry, then lost the ball out of bounds. Eisley, who took over at starting point guard for Charlie Ward in the eighth game of the season, did not return.

CAVALIERS 95, BULLS 87: With Michael Jordan watching from a skybox, LeBron James scored a game-high 32 and had a career-high 10 assists to lead visiting Cleveland. It was James' third double double of the season, his first since Nov. 29.

The loss spoiled the Bulls' homecoming party. Jordan attended his second game of the year, watching in a suite with former teammates Charles Oakley and Will Perdue. Jay Williams also was at the game, his first since the June motorcycle accident that has threatened his career.

The current Bulls didn't give fans much to cheer. Leading 71-65 near the end of the third, they went almost 51/2 minutes at the start of the fourth before scoring their first field goal. And when they did make a run, James stopped them, scoring Cleveland's last 14 points, 10 in the final two minutes.

CLIPPERS 115, MAVS 105: Corey Maggette scored 26 and Quentin Richardson had 25 points and 13 rebounds as Los Angeles handed Dallas its second home loss. Elton Brand had 22 points and 20 rebounds for the Clippers, who had won four of their past 22 meetings with the Mavericks. Los Angeles is 2-0 against Dallas this season.

Dallas rallied from an 18-point third-quarter deficit, pulling as close as 103-99 with 4:15 left on Dirk Nowitzki's 3-point play. But Bobby Simmons hit a free throw, Nowitzki turned the ball over, and Richardson converted a layup with 3:10 remaining to give the Clippers a 106-99 edge. HORNETS 94, GRIZZLIES 89: Baron Davis had 25 points and 12 assists, and host New Orleans broke out of a shooting slump to snap a three-game skid. Bonzi Wells came off the bench to lead Memphis with 18 points, including a 3-pointer and a finger roll that helped Memphis get as close as 76-72 early in the fourth. But New Orleans responded with a 14-4 run.

BUCKS 92, NETS 87: Tim Thomas scored 16 of his 21 in the first quarter and host Milwaukee Bucks eight of the final 11 points. Michael Redd added 17 points, including 10 in the fourth, and nine rebounds for Milwaukee. Kerry Kittles had 20 points for New Jersey, which had won six of its past seven. Jason Kidd added 18 points and 10 assists, but missed 13 of his first 15 shots. Milwaukee trailed 84-83 with 2:55 left, but the Bucks used a 7-0 run to seal it.

SONICS 115, NUGGETS 106: Richie Frahm hit six 3-pointers and scored a career-high 31 to lead visiting Seattle. The Sonics shot 50 percent and got 17 points each from Luke Ridnour and Rashard Lewis to end a three-game skid. Denver was playing its fourth game in five nights and didn't get back in town until 5 a.m. after a last-second loss to the Lakers Friday night. The Nuggets shot just 40 percent and had trouble getting back on defense, leading to 20 fast-break points for Seattle.

WOLVES 102, PACERS 80: Kevin Garnett had 28 points to lead host Minnesota to its fifth straight victory. Jermaine O'Neal led Indiana with 16 points but hit just 6-of-18 from the field for the Pacers, who continued their inconsistent shooting by hitting just 35 percent of field goals. It was the Pacers' worst shooting performance of the season and third consecutive game under 40 percent.

SUNS 102, ROCKETS 87: Shawn Marion scored 15 of his 25 in the fourth for host Phoenix. It was coach Mike D'Antoni's second win in six games since he replaced Frank Johnson. Kelvin Cato had 16 points and 14 rebounds for the Rockets, who were trying to extend a two-game win streak.

[Last modified December 21, 2003, 01:16:22]

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