We've seen the last of the first round, and we can say goodbye to the Miami Heat and Houston Rockets - thanks to the New York Knicks and Utah Jazz.
We've also seen the first glimpse of the second round, where the Charlotte Hornets' moment of glory didn't last long against the Chicago Bulls.New York and Utah advanced to the second round Sunday with a pair of comfortable victories that didn't really match the drama each series had already produced.
The Knicks knocked out the Alonzo Mourning-less Heat with relative ease, 98-81, and the Jazz did the same to the Charles Barkley-less Rockets, 84-70.
The Bulls, meanwhile, remained a step ahead of everyone - as well as the lone remaining undefeated playoff team - by withstanding an early burst by the Hornets in an 83-70 victory.
KNICKS 98, HEAT 81: Looking to avenge the disastrous ending to the 1996-97 season when five suspensions resulted from a Game 5 brawl, the Knicks showed the Heat how much they've learned about thriving without their franchise center.
Playoff veterans from Buck Williams (12 points, 14 rebounds) to John Starks (22 points) to Charles Oakley (18 points) complemented Allan Houston's 30 points, and the Knicks kept their poise after Miami used a 21-3 run to close within two points midway through the fourth quarter.
"It was a great win, one of many more to come," Terry Cummings said.
Miami looked lost without Alonzo Mourning, who doomed Miami's chances by foolishly throwing a punch at Larry Johnson of the Knicks with 1.4 second left in Game 4.
The Heat had no inside game without Mourning, and Tim Hardaway was a non-factor for most of Sunday's game.
The Knicks didn't really miss Johnson and Chris Mills, drawing from a capable reserve of bench players to replace their production.
"We got in a deep hole very, very early," Hardaway said. " We came back and were right there, but they shut the door on us. I don't know how we explain it. We didn't come out with the urgency to win, the energy to play hard, right from the tipoff."
The victory had to be especially gratifying to Knicks coach Jeff Van Gundy, who was the target of some stinging verbal jabs from Heat coach and former mentor Pat Riley on the eve of Game 5.
"Whatever coach Riley's opinions are now doesn't change the way I feel about him," said Van Gundy, who was so close to the coach that he gave his daughter the middle name Riley. "He has done a lot for me and my family. He kept me on when he came to New York, I worked for him for four years and I learned a lot. I respect him greatly as a coach and a man."
BULLS 83, HORNETS 70: Michael Jordan had 35 points and Scottie Pippen 25, scoring just 10 fewer than the entire Hornets team, as the Bulls pulled away in the fourth quarter to win their fourth straight playoff game.
Charlotte, which ran out to a 30-15 lead but was up only one at the half, scored just 10 third-quarter points and finished with 32 in the second half.
Glen Rice, who shot poorly against the Bulls in four regular-season games, led the Hornets with 25 points, but he was just 9-of-25 from the field.
And the Bulls shut down burly Anthony Mason, who scored a playoff-best 29 points in a clinching first-round victory over Atlanta on Friday. Mason, banging inside with Dennis Rodman and sometimes facing double teams, managed just six points and took only five shots.