CHICAGO (AP)—Eddy Curry quieted his critics from the free throw line.
One night after getting booed, Curry came off the bench to score 19 points and Jamal Crawford added 20 points as the Chicago Bulls defeated the New Orleans Hornets 89-84 Saturday night, despite almost squandering a 22-point lead.
Curry was 13-of-14 from the free throw line, setting new career highs in free throws and free throw attempts.
“I was trying to concentrate and get up there. I felt rhythm on the line and I was kind of hoping to go to the line every time,” Curry said.
“He deserves this, people have been down on him and he puts more pressure on himself than anyone else,” Crawford said.
Hornets guard Baron Davis scored 29 points, 14 in the fourth quarter.
New Orleans coach Tim Floyd’s second trip back to Chicago wasn’t as pleasant as his first one. The Hornets defeated the Bulls, whom Floyd coached for two seasons, 97-91 on Dec. 6.
Chicago used a 20-4 run in the second quarter to pull away from the Hornets. Kirk Hinrich hit a jumper to give the Bulls a 34-27 lead. After making two nice passes to Curry for dunks, Crawford hit a jumper to give the Bulls a 52-31 lead with 2:09 left in the half.
Bulls head coach Scott Skiles was impressed with the way Curry rebounded from a 1-for-9 shooting effort on Friday night.
“He was much more aggressive,” Skiles said. “He still needs to improve finishing because I feel he can go up and take three people home with him if he wants to.”
Chicago’s lead got up to 22 points early in the third quarter, but New Orleans closed the gap in the fourth. Davis scored 14 points during a 28-10 that drew the Hornets to 83-80 with 3:50 left. Davis made a 3 with Hinrich in his face, to cut the Bulls’ lead to 85-83 with 2:16 left.
After a free throw by New Orleans’ Stacey Augmon, Crawford hit a fading jumper to give Chicago an 87-84 lead. Davis then missed a 3-point attempt with Curry in his face and 6 seconds left.
“If we played with half the effort we did in the second half we win this maybe by 20,” Hornets guard David Wesley said. “It’s too hard to come back in this league when you’re down 20, especially in one quarter.”
Jerome Williams had 10 points and 10 rebounds for Chicago and Hinrich added 11.
Jamaal Magloire had 12 points and eight rebounds for New Orleans.
“I just don’t think we came out with the fire and passion it takes to winin this league,” Davis said.
Skiles isn’t upset with the recent booing from the Chicago fans, especially since the Bulls rank third in the league in attendance. “I’m not trying to hype that up too much, but that’s an undeniable factor, great fan support right there,” Skiles said. “We should appreciate that, more than anything else. I would say, because of that they have a right to voice their displeasure if they don’t like the product.” Curry, who has been the target of the boos, doesn’t necessarily agree. “We get cheers on the road, so it’s crazy when you come home and hear it,” Curry said. … Floyd is 1-2 against hisformer team. … Chicago’s bench outscored New Orleans’s 44-29.