Nearly one month into the season, that hasn’t been the case.
With two of the key players in the deal out of action, these teams meet for the first time this season with the Bulls looking to extend their season-high winning streak to five games.
Curry’s impact with the Knicks has been minimal and a strained left calf will force him to miss his fourth straight game Wednesday. Davis, New York’s starting center, is averaging 4.2 points and 5.2 rebounds in 13 games.
Sweetney is fifth on the Bulls with 11.5 points per game, but Thomas never fit in with the team and has appeared in only three games. It was reported Tuesday that the team and Thomas agreed to a split, with Chicago attempting to honor his trade request.
The Bulls are not expected to release or buy out Thomas, a free agent after the season, because his hefty contract might be attractive to teams looking to slash payroll. The trade deadline is Feb. 23.
“There was no conflict with Tim or anything like that,” Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. “Tim … is a nice guy. Where he’s at in his career is not necessarily compatible with where we’re going.”
The Bulls extended their win streak to four games with an 85-76 victory over Orlando on Tuesday.
Kirk Hinrich scored 20 points, tied a career high with 14 assists and added five steals while posting his third double-double of the season.
“My mentality was a lot better, I think,” Hinrich said. “I was able to shake off the bad plays I made and keep playing with confidence throughout the game. That’s something I’m trying to work on the days off—just go out there and play and forget about all the little things that happen.”
Luol Deng tied his season high with 21 points and Sweetney added 12 for the Bulls in their first home game since Nov. 12.
“With everything that was going on, it’s not like we were distracted by it,” Tyson Chandler said of the trade. “It’s just that we were all over the place. It always takes a little while when you get new players.”
A thrilling 105-102 overtime victory over Philadelphia on Saturday didn’t provide enough momentum for the Knicks, who lost 107-94 at Miami on Monday.
Stephon Marbury scored 19 points for the Knicks, losers of four of six.
“We’re not one of the elite teams, we know that,” Marbury said. “But it’s early though. That’s the best thing about the NBA. It’s not a sprint but a marathon. We just have to continue to get better.”
STANDINGS (through Nov. 29): Bulls - 4th place, 3 GB, Central Division. Knicks - 4th place, 3 GB, Atlantic Division.
TEAM LEADERS: Bulls - Hinrich, 14.3 ppg and 7.3 apg; Chandler, 9.7 rpg. Knicks - Marbury, 17.8 ppg and 6.4 apg; Curry, 6.5 rpg.
2004-05 SEASON SERIES: Bulls, 4-0.
LAST MEETING: April 20; Bulls, 92-91. At Chicago, Gordon scored 16 points, including the game-winning basket with 5.8 seconds left.
ROAD/HOME RECORDS: Bulls - 3-4 on the road; Knicks - 2-2 at home.