The last time New York visited Boston, the Knicks were able to come away with a victory despite not having two of their top scorers.
They may have to try and pull off that feat again when they visit the Celtics on Friday.
Houston and Van Horn are again hurting.
Houston, averaging 19.5 points per game, had surgery on his right knee in June and missed the majority of the preseason. He sat out a few games earlier this season because of that injury, and now has soreness in his left knee that has limited his playing time lately.
Houston told reporters after practice Thursday that he will rest his ailing knees and could be sidelined until mid-February.
“It can be four days, or it could be the All-Star break. I don’t know,” Houston said.
Penny Hardaway most likely will replace Houston in the starting lineup. If Houston is sidelined through the All-Star break, he’ll miss seven games.
“I believe this is a good time to do it,” Houston said. “When you look at (seven) games over the whole season, that’s not a lot of games. I want to be strong for us during the second half of the season and the playoffs. I want to be the player I know I should be.”
Van Horn was hurt in New York’s 77-67 loss to San Antonio on Tuesday when he sprained his left shoulder after being rejected by Tim Duncan on a dunk attempt.
He scored just five points in 18 minutes, and is listed as day-to-day.
“There is numbness in my hand and there is also a lot of pain in the joints,” said Van Horn, the Knicks’ third-leading scorer with 16.3 points a game. “I’m going to take some medicine and keep icing it and see how it feels.”
If Van Horn can’t play, Shandon Anderson would most likely start. Anderson scored a season-high 28 points in place of Van Horn in New York’s win over the Celtics on Nov. 24.
Boston played its first game under new coach John Carroll on Wednesday night, and lost 106-103 to the Detroit Pistons.
Carroll took over Tuesday after executive director of basketball operations Danny Ainge said Jim O’Brien resigned because of philosophical differences between them.
On Wednesday, Paul Pierce scored 26 points and Jiri Welsch added 19 for the Celtics, who suffered their sixth loss in eight games despite rallying from a 68-54 deficit midway through the third quarter to take a 93-90 lead with 2:56 remaining.
“I saw a lot of bright spots,” Carroll said. “I told those guys I think that if we continued to play like that and play as hard, we’ll be in a lot of ballgames and, hopefully, we can win our fair share.”
Boston has a two-game lead over New York for seventh place in the Eastern Conference.
STANDINGS (through Jan. 28): Knicks - 3rd place, 5 GB, Atlantic Division. Celtics - 2nd place, 3 GB, Atlantic Division.
PROBABLE STARTERS: Knicks - F Kurt Thomas, F Hardaway or Van Horn, C Dikembe Mutombo, G Anderson or Houston, G Stephon Marbury. Celtics - F Chris Mihm, F Welsch, C Mark Blount, G Pierce, G Mike James.
TEAM LEADERS: Knicks - Marbury, 19.8 ppg and 8.8 apg; Thomas, 9.0 rpg. Celtics - Pierce, 23.1 ppg, 6.9 rpg and 5.6 apg.
SEASON SERIES: Knicks, 2-0.
LAST MEETING: Nov. 24; Knicks, 94-88. At Boston, Mutombo had 13 points and 12 rebounds, and his four blocked shots highlighted an aggressive Knicks defense that brought them back from a 10-point halftime deficit.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Knicks - 8-14 on the road; Celtics - 11-14 at home.