NBA DENIES KNICKS' PROTEST: Yes, the shot should have counted. Even David Stern admitted that.

No, the outcome won't be changed. That would be the wrong call, too, according to the NBA commissioner's latest ruling.Stern dealt the New York Knicks another setback Tuesday, refusing to reverse a bad call on a last-second shot at Miami on Sunday that would have won a crucial game in their playoff run.

Stern admitted that the referees made a mistake by waving off Allan Houston's shot in the Knicks' 82-81 loss to the rival Heat. But he determined it was a judgment call, not a misapplication of rules, and was therefore irreversible.

"We felt that we were in the right on this and had a game clearly taken away from us," Knicks general manager Ernie Grunfeld said.

VAN EXEL, WILLIAMS SUSPENDED: Los Angeles Lakers guard Nick Van Exel and San Antonio forward Monty Williams were suspended without pay for two games each by the NBA for fighting in a game Monday night.

Van Exel, who also made an obscene gesture, was fined $10,000. Williams was fined $5,000. Los Angeles' Shaquille O'Neal and San Antonio's Reggie Geary and Will Perdue also were each fined $5,000.

BARKLEY ON INJURED LIST: Charles Barkley, sidelined by a strained left groin, was placed on the injured list before the Houston Rockets' 94-88 victory over Denver. The Rockets activated forward Matt Bullard from the injured list.