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Monday started with talk and ended with triumph and an odd technical foul, a more pleasing scenario for all parties involved, except Milwaukee coach Terry Porter.
Eddy Curry met with Bulls coach Scott Skiles and his staff Monday morning at the Berto Center to discuss Curry's dwindling playing time.
Twelve hours later, Curry perused a box score that listed 36 minutes, 16 points, seven rebounds and seven turnovers beside his name and, most important, a 90-85 victory over Milwaukee before 20,042 at the United Center.
The Bulls didn't play great and barely hung on to snap a three-game losing streak and win for the first time in four tries in March. But with the victory, the Bulls matched their highest victory total in the seven seasons since the dynasty days ended.
And victories have an effective way of quelling bad vibes.
"We needed this one," Curry said.
Kirk Hinrich's runner in the lane with 42.9 seconds left gave the Bulls an 87-83 lead and set up the wild finish.
After a jumper by Michael Redd, who led all scorers with 26 points, the Bucks fouled Andres Nocioni.
He almost air-balled the first free throw with 11.3 seconds left, then missed the second. But Tyson Chandler kept the rebound alive to Kirk Hinrich, who passed to Chris Duhon, who got fouled as Porter knocked a box of gum onto the court in frustration.
"The refs weren't going to call it," Chandler said, smiling. "I had to pick up a couple of candies and show them."
Hinrich made the ensuing technical foul shot with 5.2 seconds left, and Duhon followed with two more. Duhon finished with 13 points and 10 assists--his first career double-double--in a balanced Bulls attack.
Hinrich led the Bulls with 17 points and added eight assists. Nocioni had 13 points and eight rebounds.
For those keeping score at home, Curry received his first fourth-quarter playing time in three games, playing the final 6:39.
Curry didn't miss the basket in scoring 10 third-quarter points, making all three field goals and all four free throws. He played the entire quarter, which included a 10-0 Bulls run sparked by Curry and Othella Harrington.
"I was able to be a presence on defense," Curry said. "It's good that he has confidence in me to finish the game."
Said Skiles: "I thought Eddy was OK. I'll take less than seven turnovers if I can get them. I thought Eddy was much more active tonight. He was bouncing around the basket defensively for us much better."
As for his morning meeting with Curry, Skiles summed up matters in his matter-of-fact style.
"I just tried to impress upon him that he wasn't playing very well," Skiles said. "We base our playing time on performance. We wanted him to understand that. [Cleveland's Zydrunas] Ilgauskas, [San Antonio's Rasho] Nesterovic, [Washington's] Brendan Haywood, they've all kind of had their way with us. We need more from Eddy.
"There's been a long history here of a bunch of players pretty much blaming everybody but themselves. We want Eddy to be a special player, not one of those guys. That's what we told him. I'm not down on him in any way.
"Just from the experience of my own life, what I tried to impress on him the most is I've found it's pretty wise if you look at yourself first. Certainly most of the things that have happened bad to me have been my own fault. That's a good lesson to learn. We prefer to look at Eddy and hope that he develops into a winner, not a whiner."
Skiles strongly denied Curry's contention that he has a shorter leash than most players. The coach added that Curry has improved his accountability while noting that it needed improvement.
"There's a track record here, too, going all the way back to Eddy's rookie year when he said, `I don't know why I have to practice if I'm not going to play,'" Skiles said. "Eddy's a young guy. And this isn't a `coach is always right' kind of scenario. Everything's fine."
In the seven games before Monday's since the All-Star break, Curry averaged 11.9 points and 3.3 rebounds in 21.7 minutes while shooting 41.3 percent. He also has struggled with turnovers, defense and rebounding.
"I know what I have to do," Curry said. "I have to be more active on defense and try to be a force out there on the defensive end.
"We're seeing eye to eye. Coach Skiles got some things off his chest. I got a little bit off of mine. I want to move forward and make sure we don't have any further hang-ups and win as many games as possible."
Curry insisted that his frustration has nothing to do with this being a contract year.
"I'm thinking more in terms of this team," he said. "When I'm over there on the bench, I feel like I honestly can help us win some games and close out games. When I'm over there and we end up not winning, it's always a feeling of, `I could've done something out there.' That overshadows me playing for a contract. My biggest goal is to help this team."
Mission accomplished on Monday.