Daily Confidential

New York Knicks center Eddy Curry finally appears to be living up to his potential.

Curry will try to continue his red-hot play Monday night when the Knicks (8-14) host the Boston Celtics (6-13).

Curry, considered an underachiever for most of his six-year career, has scored at least 20 points in a career-high nine straight games, including a career-best 36 in a 115-107 home victory over Milwaukee on Saturday.

The 6-foot-11 center just missed a fourth straight double-double with 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.''

Curry is averaging 24.9 points and 9.0 rebounds during his run, which began when he had 21 points and 10 boards in a 101-77 victory over Boston on Nov. 24. He went 17-of-24 from the field Saturday.

``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'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 Celtics are hoping they don't see the kind of effort from Curry that he put forth in the last meeting. They'd prefer to see him go 2-of-9 for seven points, like he did in the Knicks' 122-118 home loss to Boston on Nov. 18.

Boston has won three straight at Madison Square Garden and nine of its last 11 games at New York. Paul Pierce scored 39 points in the Celtics' Nov. 18 trip to MSG, besting the Knicks' Jamal Crawford, who finished with a season-high 37 off the bench.

Pierce is coming off a big game of his own, hitting a buzzer-beater to lift Boston to a 92-90 victory at New Jersey on Saturday. His jumper with 43.7 seconds left tied it before he scored over Jason Kidd as time expired to end the Celtics' five-game losing streak.

``I knew I was going to be able to get it off,'' Pierce said. ``I had a smaller guy in Jason Kidd on me. I just got to my sweet spot, elevated and knocked down the shot.''

Boston battled back from an awful start in which it missed its first 12 shots and gave up the game's first 18 points. The Celtics trailed by as many as 20 in the first quarter.

The task of defending Curry will probably fall to Al Jefferson, who has started the last three games at center in place of the injured Kendrick Perkins. Jefferson had career highs of 29 points and 14 rebounds in Saturday's win.

Celtics guard Wally Szczerbiak will likely miss his fifth straight game with a left ankle sprain.

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