There aren't many things one can do in a tenth of a second, except perhaps blink an eye. You don't even have enough time for a quick prayer.
But Knicks guard Trent Tucker did.
In that time Monday, Tucker took an inbounds pass from Mark Jackson, rolled the ball around in his hand and launched a 28-foot prayer of a shot that left the Bulls blinking in disbelief about the Knicks' 109-106 victory in Madison Square Garden.
"I don't see how you can get a shot off in a tenth of a second," said Bulls coach Phil Jackson. "The only way is to volleyball it or punch it. Everyone knows that. It's logic."
But Jackson, a Knick most of his playing career, knows something about the illogic of playing in New York, which has a time-honored reputation for major crime and petty theft.
"I've been here a long time," said Jackson. "That's all I want to say. It was a great game."
Yet if the timing of the last play was in doubt, so were the Bulls' chances of winning this game. It was a day in which Jordan was just 9 of 24 from the field and the Knicks' Patrick Ewing had 33 points, 12 rebounds and 8 blocks.
"I was not in rhythm shooting the ball," said Jordan. "It's going to happen, but this year it's been happening more often. Hopefully it will cure itself.
"But they seemed destined to win the game the way things were going," Jordan added. "Everything bounced their way. We were lucky to be where we were because we weren't playing that well."
Where the Bulls (23-13) were was in position to win after trailing from early in the second quarter until 4:47 remained in the game.
The Bulls, who fell to 9-12 on the road, trailed 65-57 at halftime. Ewing had 21 points, many on outside jumpers, 8 rebounds and 5 blocks in the first half.
"When he's hitting from the outside like that, there's not much you can do," said Bill Cartwright, who again played well against Ewing with 18 points and 12 rebounds. "You've just got to try to keep him shooting from the outside."
The Knicks, who maintained the Eastern Conference's best record at 26-10, continued to work to Ewing and Charles Oakley, who had 16 points and 12 rebounds, going up 82-72 late in the third and leading 88-82 after three quarters.
But with Stacey King playing well inside and picking up 13 points in 17 minutes and Scottie Pippen, with 22 points and 9 rebounds, getting out on the break, the Bulls took a 97-96 lead on a Pippen dunk with less than five minutes to go.
Johnny Newman responded with a jumper and two free throws, but Jordan, who scored a team-high 26, drove inside and was fouled for a three-point play and a tie at 100 with 3:32 left.
The teams then exchanged a pair of baskets before the Bulls inched ahead 106-104 on a short Jordan jumper with 1:22 remaining. But Ewing answered with a layup after an offensive rebound and Jordan committed a turnover and Ewing missed a short jumper to leave the score tied with 21 seconds left.
The Bulls worked for a Jordan drive, but the Knicks cut him off and when Cartwright moved over to set a screen, Ewing popped out to Jordan, who moved back and attempted a three-pointer, which he missed.
Pippen then grabbed a dribbling Mark Jackson, but the Bulls had a foul left and the Knicks got the ball with 00:1 on the clock, a time that reflects the league's decision this season to use fractions of a second in the last minute.
"You don't assign anyone (to Tucker)," said Jackson. "We know you can't get a shot off in a tenth of a second. We were looking for a lob to the basket or a tap."
As were the Knicks.
"The play was designed to throw into the basket for Patrick," said Tucker, who has proven a late threat for the Knicks, hitting that four-point play against the Bulls in last season's playoffs.
"I went along the baseline and kept coming toward Mark," said Tucker. "When he couldn't get the ball to Pat, he saw me and I had just enough time to get off a prayer."
With the buzzer ringing in everyone's ears, the high, 28-foot, three-pointer hung in the air before settling gently through the net.
"The Lord answered my prayer," said Tucker.
The Bulls lost for the fourth time this season on an opponent's shot at the buzzer.
"I guess we're still paying for that shot M.J. hit against Cleveland in the playoffs last season," said Pippen.Copyright © 2015, The Baltimore Sun