New York 115, Milwaukee 107

NEW YORK, Dec. 9 (AP) -- From criticisms of his rebounding to questions about his toughness, Eddy Curry has endured plenty of negativity since arriving in New York.

Nobody is complaining about him these days.

Curry powered his way to a career-high 36 points Saturday night, leading the Knicks to a 115-107 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks.

Overwhelming the smaller Milwaukee frontcourt, Curry surpassed the 20-point mark for his ninth straight game. He shot 17-of-24 from the floor and scored 14 points in the third quarter, when the Knicks opened a 17-point lead by outscoring the Bucks 36-22.

"I thought he was great,'' Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "He's been so good lately that whenever he's not in the game, quickly you notice that he's not there. His presence has pretty much been overwhelming

Curry also grabbed nine rebounds before leaving to chants of "Eddy! Eddy!'' in the closing seconds. He couldn't remember a stretch like he's enjoying now.

"Maybe high school or something like that,'' Curry said. "But in the league, it's hard to stay on a roll like this, because you score 20 a couple of games and the whole defensive scheme changes. But to do it as many times as I've done it, it definitely means a lot to me.''

Jamal Crawford, starting for the injured Steve Francis, added 25 points for the Knicks, who lost point guard Stephon Marbury with an injury to his left arm during the third quarter. Besides Francis, New York was already without Channing Frye and Jared Jeffries, both expected starters, because of injuries.

However, the Knicks overcame all that to win for the third time in 11 home games, improving to 2-2 on a six-game homestand that could help determine if they can contend in the weak Atlantic Division. Nate Robinson finished with 22 points and David Lee had 12 points and 13 rebounds.

Mo Williams scored 33 points for the Bucks and Charlie Villanueva had 24 in his second game back after missing 10 because of a torn left elbow ligament. Michael Redd got off to a poor start and finished with 22.

The Bucks had a two-game winning streak snapped.

"Eddy Curry was a monster,'' Bucks coach Terry Stotts said. "He gets it in deep, he finished around the paint. His presence set up everything. He set up the 3-point shot, he set up penetration, the game he was having just helped everybody. He's a talented young kid.

"This is the ninth straight game with over 20 and he's only going to get better. He's got a lot of ability.

At 285 pounds, Curry outweighs Bucks center Andrew Bogut by 40 pounds. Dan Gadzuric, who came in after Bogut picked up two quick fouls, is listed at 240. Curry had 18 points by halftime, then seized control of the game in the third quarter.

The 6-foot-11 Curry was 6-of-7 in the period, converting a pair of three-point plays and getting three dunks. He even blocked two shots, including one that prevented Bogut from swooping in for what appeared to be an easy dunk.

The Knicks shot 73 percent (16-of-22) in the third, turning a three-point halftime lead into a 95-78 advantage.

"That was a great quarter for us,'' Quentin Richardson said. "Everybody had a role in it. Eddy had it rolling, Jamal was making shots.''

The only negative was watching Marbury leave while holding his left wrist with 7:20 left. The Knicks said Marbury had a left forearm contusion and that X-rays were negative.

Marbury said his injury was just a bruise but that his hand was hurting. He said he expected to play Monday against Boston.

The Knicks looked lost without him in the fourth quarter Saturday. The Bucks, using 265-pound forward Brian Skinner to body up Curry, cut New York's lead to 104-101 after a bucket by Redd with 3:45 remaining. Robinson then made two free throws and Curry scored again for a seven-point lead with 1:49 to go.

Redd was only 1-of-7 in the first quarter, helping the Knicks take a 29-26 lead after Crawford's jumper with 0.3 seconds left in the period. But while Redd was quiet, Williams picked up the slack and already had 19 points before spraining his right ankle and heading to the bench with a little more than 4 minutes remaining in the half.

Richardson's follow shot with 0.2 seconds to go gave New York a 59-56 lead at the half. Richardson finished with 14 points and 10 rebounds.

Notes: Curry's streak of 20-point games is the longest by a Knicks player since Allan Houston had 10 in a row from Jan. 26 to Feb. 18, 1998. ... The Bucks were playing an Eastern Conference team for the first time since Nov. 25. They had played six straight against West teams, winning four. ... Thomas said he liked the team he had and wasn't interested in Philadelphia's Allen Iverson.


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