NEW YORK -- New York Knicks center Patrick Ewing said yesterday that he hoped his sprained left ankle would be "at least 80 percent" healthy for the decisive Game 7 of the Eastern Conference semifinal playoffs tomorrow against the Chicago Bulls.
Ewing, who sprained the ankle in the third quarter of Game 6 Thursday night, underwent a full day of ice and electrical stimulation therapy at the Knicks' training complex at SUNY-Purchase. Precautionary X-rays were negative.
Ewing returned to score 11 fourth-quarter points in a 100-86 victory that evened the series at three games each, but he had to leave Madison Square Garden on crutches and his wife drove him home.
"This is the worst sprain I've ever had in my life," Ewing said yesterday while soaking his ankle in a tub of ice. "I just hope I'll be at least 80 percent healthy by Sunday. It's not hurting as much today as it was last night. Now it's just hurting me when I try to put my weight on it. The doctor said, hopefully, I'll be fine when Sunday comes around."
Ewing said he has never felt such simultaneous joy and pain.
"There was joy from making it into the deciding seventh game because this is the farthest I've ever been since I've been a Knick," Ewing said. "And then there was the pain of my ankle. It was hurting me like the dickens. I just want the swelling to go down so I can get my mobility back."
Ewing, one of the few NBA players who does not tape his ankles before a game, went down in a heap when he landed on the foot of Bulls center Bill Cartwright after releasing a jumper with four minutes left in the third quarter.
After writhing on the floor in pain, Ewing limped to the bench.
"The only thing he said was, 'Get me ready,' " said trainer Mike Saunders, who gave him a quick tape job that allowed Ewing to return three minutes later.
Saunders said Ewing has not had his ankles taped "for quite a while" because they "are very strong. He has a lot of support. He doesn't have a history of ankle problems. The ankle is stable right now."
Saunders will modify the treatment regimen today to include hot and cold baths and continue the electrical stimulation.
Asked about the amount of swelling, Saunders said: "It could have been a lot worse, but Patrick kept it elevated and we put a compression wrap on it [Thursday] night to keep it to a minimum."
Will Ewing be ready?
"We won't know until Sunday," Saunders said, "but I know Patrick and I know if anybody's going to play, it's going to be him."
Coach Pat Riley was even less equivocal.
"He'll be able to give it more than a try," Riley said. "It's a sprained ankle. I'm not going to downplay it.