Eddy Curry had some of his biggest moments in his brief New York Knicks career in Monday night's 140-133 triple-overtime win over the Phoenix Suns.
Passion always in fashion
When the Knicks' big offseason acquisition stood at the foul line in the final moments of regulation, calmly sinking two free throws that helped send the game into overtime, it reminded the Madison Square Garden fans why perhaps the deal was made to bring him here from Chicago.
But those high points have been few and far between from the hefty center. Since Isiah Thomas dealt for him, the Curry deal ultimately has the potential to sink the Knicks, who have put a lot of the franchise's future in his hands. And the statistical impact of the main man Chicago got from the Knicks for Curry, fellow widebody Mike Sweetney, has been about dead even. That's not a good sign for New York.
My big problem with Curry: he has shown no evidence of having the passion needed to become a great player. Curry, who did much of his 20-point, 12-rebound damage Monday when ex-Knick Kurt Thomas was out with foul trouble, still has not shown the fire that it takes to be great.
The biggest measure of the deal will be how the draft picks the Bulls obtained, including the Knicks' conditional No. 1 in the coming draft, pan out. Both teams are struggling now, the Knicks' 8-21 mark flirting with the league's worst record. The Bulls have lost seven straight, dropping to 12-18 on the season with a 93-92 loss to the Bucks. In the loss, Sweetney had a late miss in his seven-point, nine-rebound effort.
Curry's numbers don't reflect greatness either. He's been 13.5 points per game, and 6.4 rebounds per game, right around Sweetney's 11.2 and 6.1.
The Knicks were looking for him to be one of those 20-point, 10-rebound per game guys. That's not a big group in the NBA, guys like Duncan, Jermaine O'Neal, Kevin Garnett, Amare Stoudemire. And those 20-10 guys are usually a part of winning teams.
Curry still could become the centerpiece for the Knicks. Even though he hasn't panned out yet, it's hard to give up on a guy at the age 23. And he does have as good as the game has in a teacher when it comes to Larry Brown.
By dealing Curry, the Bulls don't have to deal with the situation of paying for somebody's potential. This gives them the chance to find the next big-time player. The Bulls still have good talent, and they still have a chance to make the playoffs this year.
Chicago's core is legit, Hinrich, Deng, Duhon, Gordon and more --- those guys can play at a high level -- the question now is their ability to put the supporting cast around them. They now have the flexibility to do that with the salary cap, and the Knicks' draft picks.
Both teams held strong playoff hopes entering the season. Chicago's isn't gone yet, but the Knicks don't have much of a shot now. In the years ahead, I think Chicago will have a chance at great things, but the Knicks will likely be the ones with questions that will need to be answered.
The biggest of all: does Curry have the passion to be great?
ESPN NBA studio host Greg Anthony played for six NBA teams in 11 seasons.
Knicks rookies Channning Frye, left, and David Lee embrace, as Stephon Marbury (3), who had 32 points, watches Jamal Crawford pick up a collapsed Nate Robinson after the Knicks defeated the Suns 140-133 in triple OT.
Shawn Marion expressed frustration last week that the Suns aren't running the way they did a year ago, but perhaps he's romanticizing the past. Heading into Monday's triple-OT loss to the Knicks, the Suns again were the league's fastest-paced team, using 98.2 possessions per 48 minutes. That's just a whisker shy of last year's league-leading mark of 98.3; in fact, relative to the league average the Suns stand exactly where they did a year ago.
On on the other hand, what may be frustrating Marion isn't the amount of running, but that Phoenix's forays upcourt are so frequently of the one-and-done variety. The smallish Suns are the league's least effective offensive rebounding team, claiming a measly 23.5 percent of their misses, and that weakness hurt them badly against New York. The Suns had 51 shots clang off the rim up for grabs, but came up with only seven. Because of that, the Knicks were able to win despite 23 missed free throws, 22 turnovers and a 13-4 deficit in 3-pointers.
-- John Hollinger
• Kobe Bryant, who finishes his two-game suspension Tuesday at Utah, is slated to return Friday when the Lakers play host to the Sixers. The only time Bryant has played an entire 82-game season was 2002-03, when he averaged a career-best 30.0 points. ... Bryant has missed no fewer than 15 shots in 13 games this season. He leads Los Angeles with a 32.7 scoring average -- but his 43.7 field goal percentage is the lowest of any of the five Lakers who have taken at least 70 shots.
• Blazers guard Sebastian Telfair, who has been out the last ten games with a right thumb sprain, could play as early as Tuesday when the Blazers visit Dallas. Telfair was practicing with the team but did not play Sunday.
• The Bobcats and Hornets have played one game in each of the Hornets' three regular home cities -- Charlotte, New Orleans and Oklahoma City. The Bobcats' only win came in Charlotte last season.
-- The Associated Press
Bucks forward Bobby Simmons collides with Bulls' Michael Sweetney, right, and Andres Nocioni. The Bucks won 93-92, led by Michael Redd's 29 points.
Quote of the Day
"Whenever you can go on the court and play three overtimes with no one giving up, it shows what we can do on the court."
-- Knicks G Stephon Marbury, who made 13-of-28 FGs en route to 32 points.
-- Andrew Ayres
Happy New Year? The league's hottest team -- no one has an active win streak close to this eight-gamer by the Nets -- would be even happier if it didn't have to wait until Friday for its next game. A scheduling quirk means a full week off to interrupt Nets' flow.
New York's 140-133 victory over Phoenix on Monday was the sixth triple-overtime game that the Knicks have ever played, but the first such NBA game in Madison Square Garden history. The Garden has hosted more than 2,200 NBA games, including over 1,500 at its current site.
Raja Bell, Boris Diaw, Kurt Thomas and Pat Burke each had six personal fouls for the Suns. Phoenix was the first team to have four players foul out of a game since it happened to the Bucks in a 120-113 regulation loss at Denver on Dec. 30, 2000 (Jason Caffey, Ervin Johnson, Jerome Kersey and Scott Williams).
• Elias Sports Bureau | More from Elias
"You don't want to be in limbo too long. It's not a healthy way to live. It's not just healthy for anyone. But, at the same time, I'm here now. I might not be here tomorrow, so there's nothing I can do about it."
-- Nuggets point guard Earl Watson, telling the Rocky Mountain News he wouldn't oppose a trade to one of his former teams, the Sonics or Grizzlies. Both could use a point man.
In December, AND 1 was wrapping up a 15-city tour through Europe, Asia and the Pacific Islands. They were holding an open run in Wellington, New Zealand, and the locals were going bonkers with the ball. Everyone was attempting tricks, but no one could hit a layup, let alone a J.
Finally, after about 10 minutes of scoreless horseplay, an exasperated AO grabbed the mic and began lecturing on the fundamentals of the game, particularly the bottom line -- putting the ball in the basket.
"They be trying too many tricks overseas,'' AO said with a laugh. "I be like, 'Yo, can somebody please make a layup?' One kid put the ball in his shirt, took his shirt off and threw his shirt in the air with the ball in it. I just looked at cats and said, 'Is this what we're doing to basketball?'''
Hey, look at the bright side. If players in other countries quit mastering the fundamentals, maybe America will reclaim Olympic Gold one day.