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Houston's hot hand keeping Knicks in playoff race

SAN ANTONIO (AP) -- Allan Houston can't seem to miss these days,
helping the New York Knicks stay in the playoff picture.

Houston scored 36 points, including 16 in the fourth quarter, as the New York Knicks defeated San Antonio 105-97 Tuesday night to snap the Spurs' six-game winning streak.

Houston was coming off a 50-point performance in his last game,
a victory over the Bucks. He made six 3-pointers to help New York
move within two games of Milwaukee and Washington for the eighth
and final playoff spot in the East.

"He's in a zone right now, and that's good to see. It was a great win for us and allowed us to finally gain some ground,'' Latrell Sprewell said.

Sprewell added 17, Michael Doleac had 14 and Kurt Thomas 13 for
the Knicks, who outscored the Spurs 36-19 in the final quarter.

"I'm just feeling good right now and the whole team is helping
me out,'' Houston said. "Right now I feel like if I can just get
to my spots on the floor I'll be successful. I'm confident.''

Tim Duncan had 27 points despite being listed as questionable
before the game with a sprained right ankle. He was 9-of-15 from
the field in 45 minutes but struggled at the line, hitting only
nine of 15.

"I went through a little workout this afternoon and it felt
really good,'' Duncan said. "It felt fine and I wasn't bothered
with it.''

Tony Parker scored 21, while Bruce Bowen, Malik Rose and Stephen
Jackson added 12 apiece. San Antonio was 22-of-35 from the free
throw line.

"Good production from the line tonight definitely makes a game
like this closer, probably allows us to get ahead,'' Spurs coach
Gregg Popovich said. "But we just didn't get the production we
wanted -- not just from the line, but in general.''

The loss knocked the Spurs 3½ games behind the Dallas Mavericks
in the Midwest Division. The teams meet this Thursday.

The Knicks, who were down by 15 early in the third, opened the
fourth quarter with a 14-4 run and took the lead on Houston's
3-pointer that made it 83-82 with 7:09 left. Houston went on to
carry the Knicks in the fourth, shooting 6-for-11 from the field -- including 4-for-6 from the 3-point line -- while the Spurs hit only two of their first 18 shots. They finished 5-for-21 in the quarter.

"Allan Houston was extremely hot tonight. We did everything from trapping him off the ball and doubling him, but he was on fire,'' Duncan said.

After being tied at 38, the Spurs went on a 17-4 run to close
the first half, capped by Parker's 17-foot jumper to go in with a
55-42 lead. Duncan's 12-footer with 8:24 left in the third put the
Spurs up 63-48.

Game notes
San Antonio dropped to 12-1 at home against Eastern Conference opponents and 26-6 overall at the SBC Center. ... David Robinson sat out his sixth consecutive game with a sore back. ... Jackson and Manu Ginobili both fouled out, but the Knicks went to the line only 15 times -- eight in the fourth quarter when the Spurs were forced to foul.