Chris Duhon insists he derived no extra motivation facing his former team and the rookie who made him expendable before this season.
The Knicks point guard would have played through the back spasms Monday against any opponent -- and would have driven against two defenders for the go-ahead basket just the same, too.
Duhon scored with 31.2 seconds left to help lift New York to a 102-98 victory over the Chicago Bulls in an afternoon Martin Luther King Jr. Day game. He wasn't sure Monday morning if he would play.
"I'm hurting real bad," Duhon said, "but my main thing was us to go get a win, and that's what we came out and did."
After Duhon put the Knicks ahead for good, Derrick Rose missed on a drive. Duhon then hit two free throws with 22.8 seconds remaining to extend the lead to three. It was Rose's arrival as the No. 1 overall draft pick that all but guaranteed Duhon's departure after four seasons in Chicago, and he signed with the Knicks in the offseason.
Neither team is complaining about those moves. Duhon has flourished in coach Mike D'Antoni's offense, averaging 12.3 points and 8.0 assists after scoring 19 Monday.
"Playing his former team, it had to be a real motivation whether he'll tell you that or not," said Knicks forward David Lee, who hurt his ankle in the first half but returned. "He's a warrior."
Rose has justified his draft position, averaging 16.9 points and 6.4 assists. His 20 points Monday were the most for a No. 1 overall pick making his Madison Square Garden debut since LeBron James had 22 in 2004.
Two straight jumpers by Rose gave the Bulls a 97-94 lead with less than three minutes remaining. The Knicks nearly turned the ball over on their next possession, but instead the loose ball led to an open 3-pointer by Quentin Richardson that tied the score.
Richardson led the Knicks with 24 points.
Kirk Hinrich made one of two free throws with 1:10 to go to give Chicago a 98-97 lead.
The Bulls still had a chance to tie the game in the final seconds after Duhon's free throws, but Ben Gordon shot an airball on a 3-point attempt. Gordon, the Bulls' leading scorer, had just eight points on
"This is frustrating," he said. "It seems like a habit, almost. You do everything just to stay in the game, and when the game's on the line, we're just not coming through with the plays we need."
The No. 6 pick in the draft, Knicks forward Danilo Gallinari, posted career highs in points (9), rebounds (4), assists (2) and steals (2). He both thrilled and exasperated fans in his second game after missing 36 with a sore lower back.
Gallinari had a dunk in transition, a 3-pointer and a block of Rose as the Knicks scored nine straight points to take an 87-81 lead early in the fourth quarter.
But later his turnover led to Tyrus Thomas' alley-oop dunk from
Rose that pulled Chicago within 91-89.
The Knicks had their biggest lead at 54-41 with just over three minutes left before halftime when the Bulls went on a 12-1 run.
Rose hit two jumpers and fed Luol Deng for a dunk for two of his six points during the spurt. Deng's slam came in transition after Joakim Noah blocked Jared Jeffries' shot. Deng finished with 20 points for Chicago.
Jeffries thought he was fouled, and on the next possession, he drove at Noah again. This time he made the shot and got the foul call with a second left in the half.
But then he yelled at the official and was hit with a technical.
Hinrich made that free throw for Chicago, then Jeffries missed his, and the Knicks went into the half with a 57-54 lead.