When Franklin Edwards was in junior high school, he used to take the subway from Harlem to Madison Square Garden, sit high in the rafters and dream about making a game-winning shot for the New York Knicks.
Half the dream came true today. He made the shot, but he isn't a Knick.
Edwards, a 6-foot-1 second-year guard, playing for injured Andrew Toney, banked in a 15-foot jump shot with two seconds left to give the Philadelphia 76ers a 107-105 victory over the Knicks and a three-games-to-none lead in their best-of-seven NBA Eastern Conference semifinal series.
"I idolized the Knicks when I was younger," said Edwards, "but I'm glad to be a 76er now."
No NBA team ever has come from a 3-0 deficit to win a seven-game series. Game 4 will be at the Garden Sunday (WDVM-TV-9 at 3:30).
The Knicks trailed by six points with only 50 seconds left, but, after two baskets by Bill Cartwright and two missed free throws by Julius Erving, a loose-ball foul on Clint Richardson put New York's Ernie Grunfeld on the foul line with his team down by two with 19 seconds left. Grunfeld sank both shots to tie the score at 105.
The 76ers advanced the ball to midcourt and called time with 15 seconds left to set up a play.
Bobby Jones in-bounded the ball to Maurice Cheeks, who passed it to Erving. Erving was quickly double-teamed by Grunfeld and Bernard King, which left Edwards, Grunfeld's man, open on the other side of the floor. Erving got the ball to him and Edwards faked Cartwright into the air, then dribbled past him and lofted his high-arching game-winning shot over the outstretched hands of Truck Robinson.
"We were looking to isolate Doc (Erving) and put Maurice (Cheeks) in the corner," said 76ers Coach Billy Cunningham. "I felt they'd double-team Doc and he'd find the open man. He did and Frank made a great play."
Said Edwards: "I've been in that situation before and I didn't hesitate. My job is to make sure we get the last shot. When I got the ball and started to the basket, I saw Truck was the only guy in my way. I wanted to get him up in the air, and then I felt time was running out, so I just put it up."
New York Coach Hubie Brown said his team played virtually perfect defense on the play. "We took them out of their first option and out of their second option and they wind up with a difficult shot and Edwards gets the big make."
Moses Malone, shooting mostly jump shots, led the 76ers with 28 points and Cheeks added 23. Between them, they accounted for 16 of Philadelphia's final 18 points.
Toney, who missed the previous game with a bruised thigh, started today, but made only one of seven shots and Cunningham decided to alternate Edwards for offense and Richardson for defense at the guard spot most of the day.
Edwards finished with 11 points, three assists and three steals.
The Knicks were in the game all the way because Cartwright, who was scoreless in the previous game, went right at Malone and scored 19 points and Robinson battled Malone on the boards, outrebounding him, 15-14.
The 76ers built a 10-point lead with 3:40 left, as the Knicks in that stretch missed eight of nine free throws.
A frantic full-court press and six points by King, who finished with 21, closed the gap to 101-99 with 1:27 left. Then Malone turned two almost unbelievable plays. First, with the 24-second clock running down, he banked in a 16-footer with Cartwright hanging on his arm.
Then, after a New York turnover, Malone dribbled around three Knicks from past midcourt, behind-the-back dribble and all, and scored, for a six-point lead with 50 seconds to play. This set the stage for the frantic finish.
"We can't play any harder than we did today," said Brown. "We physically cannot, and we still came up short."