With Eddy Curry on his game and guard Steve Francis back in the starting lineup, the Knicks (5-9) matched their largest margin of victory this season with a 101-77 win over the Boston Celtics on Friday to snap a three-game losing streak.
After coach Isiah Thomas relegated him to a reserve role in New York’s 107-89 loss to Minnesota on Wednesday, Francis started Friday and scored 22 points—including making all 15 of his free-throw attempts. Curry added 21 points and had 10 rebounds for his first double-double since posting 13 points and 11 rebounds in a 105-93 loss to San Antonio on Nov. 6.
“If we can get our big guys going like we did today, mainly Eddy Curry, it opens everything up,” Francis said.
New York outscored Boston 48-26 in the paint as forwards Channing Frye (13 points against Boston) and David Lee (11 points, 13 rebounds) continue to improve inside for a New York team which ranks in league’s top 10 in rebounding.
“This was a good win for us,” Thomas said. “We need to be patient with the post. We are not patient, or at least we haven’t been thus far in terms of really force-feeding (Curry).”
Chicago (3-9) needs to beat the Knicks to avoid going winless on its seven-game road trip.
The Bulls lost 123-108 to the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday, and are in danger of going winless on their annual circus trip for the sixth time in the last seven years. It was the most points allowed in a game this season for the Bulls, who have lost eight straight overall on the road.
Prized offseason acquisition Ben Wallace endured his worst performance since signing with Chicago as a free agent. Wallace failed to record a rebound and went scoreless in 19 minutes Friday. He was pulled from the game by Chicago coach Scott Skiles with 5:44 to play in the third quarter and did not return.
“I don’t need any explanation for what I do,” said Wallace, who had never previously failed to grab a rebound in a game he started. “If I knew the answer I’d be doing something to change it.”
Guard Ben Gordon could help the Bulls end their losing skid if he continues his strong play versus New York. He averaged 30.7 points on 51.5 percent shooting in three games against the Knicks last season.
Gordon, who started the first six games of the season, has come off the bench during the road trip and scored 22 points on Friday. He is averaging 20.8 points in six games as a reserve.
Chicago won two of three games against New York last season, winning the last meeting 108-101 on Mar. 3 at Madison Square Garden. The two teams will play again on Tuesday in Chicago.