Patrick Ewing's shooting slump lasted so long that the crowd stood and cheered when he finally made one.

Ewing missed his first six shots, making him 0 for 14 in his comeback, before finally making three of them last night, as the New York Knicks hung on to beat the Boston Celtics, 99-97, in New York.

"I'm encouraged every day I can get out there and play," said Ewing, who finished 3 for 11 with seven rebounds and five blocks.

It was the 14th straight loss at Madison Square Garden for the Celtics, who learned earlier Sunday that Paul Pierce, their leading scorer, will be out at least two weeks with an ankle sprain.

Allan Houston scored 26 points, but missed two foul shots with 2.1 seconds left that would have iced the win. The Celtics then inbounded from midcourt with 1.8 seconds left, trailing 99-97, and got the ball to Antoine Walker 35 feet away from the basket. Trying to free himself from Larry Johnson, Walker lost control of the ball and never got a shot off.

LAKERS 101, PISTONS 93: Kobe Bryant scored 26 points as the host Lakers beat the Pistons for their ninth victory in 10 games.

Shaquille O'Neal added 22 points and 24 rebounds as the Lakers' two stars outdueled Grant Hill and Jerry Stackhouse, the NBA's highest-scoring tandem.

Hill had 25 points and 12 rebounds, while Stackhouse added 24 points. The Pistons got just 15 points from their reserves, and the Lakers' backups had 40 points, led by Rick Fox with 20.

JAZZ 103, RAPTORS 88: Starting a seven-game road trip, the Jazz felt right at home. Karl Malone had 28 points and 14 rebounds as Utah routed Toronto.

Utah's stingy defense held the Raptors in check all game as Toronto shot a miserable 35 percent--just 24 percent in the first half. Toronto wasn't much better from the free throw line, making only 30 of a season-high 44 attempts.