|New York @|
|84 - 86|
Eddy Curry's layup with 2.4 seconds left capped a fourth-quarter rally and gave Chicago its sixth straight victory, 86-84 over the New York Knicks on Saturday.
The winning streak is Chicago's best since Jordan led the team to 13 consecutive wins late in the 1997-98 championship season. The Bulls, who lost their first nine games this season, have won 12 of 15 overall.
For fourth-year center Eddy Curry, life in the NBA has never been this good.
"This is amazing," Curry said. "I don't think it can get any better. This is my first time ever experiencing winning at this level. It's great. It's a great feeling."
Curry's big shot was the result of hard work by everyone on the floor for the Bulls.
Andres Nocioni set up the winning score by blocking Trevor Ariza's jumper from the corner. Tyson Chandler saved the ball from going out of bounds and threw it behind him to Kirk Hinrich, who fed Nocioni as he raced up the floor. Nocioni then passed to Curry, who drove to the basket and put the Bulls ahead.
"I wanted to just pick it up and make sure I had it," Curry said. "I knew once I had it in my hands I could get to the basket."
New York called a timeout, and Chandler blocked Nazr Mohammed's shot with time running out to seal it.
The 7-foot-1 Chandler, who leads the Bulls with 54 blocks, was surprised that Mohammed was coming at him.
"I thought they were going to go to (Stephon) Marbury," Chandler said. "When I saw he was coming at me, in my mind I knew he only had 3 seconds so he had to put it up. With 5 seconds, he'd probably pump fake me and I'd be in the air, but 3 seconds, he can't."
Knicks coach Lenny Wilkens believed getting the ball to Mohammed was a good play.
"We wanted to get it in to Nazr. We wanted to go to the basket and get fouled if we could," Wilkens said. "We set up what I thought was a good play at the end."
Curry led the Bulls with 17 points. Hinrich had 15 points and 11 assists, and Ben Gordon scored 16 points -- 14 in the fourth quarter.
Marbury led the Knicks with 25 points and 10 assists. Ariza, a rookie, came off the bench to score 18 points and grab nine rebounds in 37 minutes, all career highs.
"We lost. Career highs? That does not matter if we did not win," Ariza said. "That's the kind of player I am. If it didn't help us win, than it doesn't really count."
Chicago came out firing in the second half, with Hinrich setting up Luol Deng for two straight 3-pointers and Chris Duhon for one.
Ariza dunked with 35.9 seconds left in the third quarter and followed with an 18-foot jumper at the buzzer to give the Knicks a 65-56 advantage at the end of the third, their largest lead of the game.
The Bulls fought back to even the score midway through the fourth. Hinrich's 3-pointer cut the lead to 76-75 at 6:08. After a free throw by Moochie Norris, Gordon tied it at 77 with 5:37 left.
"We were able to get me and Ben a bunch of pick-and-rolls," Hinrich said. "When Ben was penetrating, they weren't coming off of me. When I was penetrating they weren't coming off of Ben. So it made it a little easier to get deeper on the defense, get our shots off and make good plays."
Curry's hook at 3:02 gave the Bulls the lead, but Kurt Thomas responded with a 16-foot shot for New York.
Thomas fouled Gordon on the Bulls' next possession, and the rookie hit both free throws to put Chicago up 83-81. Ariza then tied it with a jump shot.
Gordon followed by drawing another foul from Thomas, but only hit one free throw.
After being fouled by Gordon, Ariza made just one free throw to tie it again.
Adrian Griffin then missed two free throws for the Bulls, leading to Ariza's blocked shot.
Chicago led 22-20 after the first quarter. Marbury tied the game at 22 early in the second. Othella Harrington responded with a 20-foot jump shot for the Bulls, but Vin Baker tied it again with an 18-footer. Antonio Davis hit two free throws to cut the lead to 42-37 at halftime.
Jamal Crawford returned to Chicago for the first time since being traded by the Bulls in the offseason but didn't play. An injured right toe has kept him on the injured list since Dec. 26, but he expects to be healthy enough to play after a few more practices. "It feels different being back here, especially in this locker room. It's a different feeling for sure, but it's good to be back," Crawford said. ... Tim Thomas missed his third straight game due to a bruised left knee. ... Chicago guard Jannero Pargo returned after missing 22 games because of a left hamstring strain. ... Chicago kept its opponent under 100 points for the 21st straight game, the longest current streak in the NBA.