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New York at Chicago

Bulls win, but Big Ben focus shifts from headband to hand

CBS SportsLine.com wire reports
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CHICAGO -- Ben Wallace kept his headband out of sight. His injured hand was another story, though, and the Bulls' saga with their center took another turn on Tuesday.

Ben Gordon scored 23 points to lead Chicago to a 102-85 victory over the New York Knicks, but Wallace remained the center of attention.

"People are going to write and say what they want to say, but that doesn't affect what we do when we step out on the floor," Wallace said.

Back home after going 1-6 on the annual circus road trip, the Bulls pulled away late in the fourth quarter.

But there was an added twist in the controversy between Wallace and the team. He said Tuesday his right hand -- which he injured in Saturday's 106-95 victory at New York -- has ligament damage and bone chips. A day earlier, the team said he had a sprained index finger and bruised wrist.

Wallace also expressed no regret for wearing a headband during Saturday's game, a violation of team rules that led to him being benched. Those issues aside, Wallace grabbed 12 rebounds and blocked two shots while scoring eight points.

As for his relationship with coach Scott Skiles and general manager John Paxson, it is "the same (as) it's always been."

Which is?

"Great!" Wallace said with a big smile.

Gordon shot 8-of-18 after scoring seven on Saturday, and Chris Duhon added 18 points.

Up 82-78 midway through the fourth quarter, Duhon's running jumper with 5:39 left started a 10-2 run that put away the Knicks. Kirk Hinrich drove for a layup and made two free throws that made it 92-80 with 3:19 left. P.J. Brown added two foul shots and a tip-in during that run.

Former Bulls center Eddy Curry led New York with 24 points, but Stephon Marbury was 2-of-13 with seven points. He played the entire fourth quarter but missed all three shots and did not score, while committing three of his five turnovers.

"I don't have the ball as much as I normally do," Marbury said. "We had three guards in there tonight. Any one of us can have the ball. I'm used to having the ball. It's an adjustment. You have no choice; we have to make the adjustment."

The Knicks were missing starting forwards Channing Frye and Quentin Richardson, who were injured Saturday.

Frye is expected to miss three to six weeks with a sprained left ankle. Richardson, who was active but did not dress, is day to day with a strained left hamstring. David Lee and Renaldo Balkman started in their place and finished with 14 and six points. Lee added 11 rebounds.

Tuesday's game was New York's first at the United Center since Jan. 18, when then-Knick Antonio Davis -- a former Bull -- went into the stands after he saw a fan arguing with his wife, Kendra.

But the Wallace situation overshadowed that.

When asked after the morning shootaround if he regretted the headband incident, Wallace said, "Not at all."

He also implored the team to "look at" the rule.

Wallace's revelation about his hand was news to Skiles, who said, "That's all I'm aware of -- the official report."

A four-time NBA Defensive Player of the Year, Wallace hasn't looked like the player he was with Detroit. The 32-year-old center has struggled to fit in since signing a four-year, $60 million contract with the Bulls during the offseason. He is averaging 9.4 rebounds -- a drop of nearly two per game from last season -- and a team that expects to contend for the Eastern Conference championship is just 5-9 after Tuesday's win.

The Bulls have not played as well on defense as they did last season, and Wallace has reportedly clashed with the team over issues such as playing music in the locker room.

Paxson banned head bands when he took over for Jerry Krause in April 2003 because he didn't like the cavalier way several Bulls wore them. The team's marketing department presumably was unaware of the ban, since Wallace and his headband are featured prominently in various campaigns.

On Tuesday, Wallace displayed some of the energy that made him the big prize on the free agent market.

"I think he was active in general," Skiles said. "There are other guys who go out there with energy and don't really do anything. When he has energy, he plays very well."

Notes

  • Chicago's Luol Deng finished with 12 points after scoring at least 20 the previous three games.
  • Growing up on the city's west side, Knicks coach Isiah Thomas used to sneak into Bulls games at the old Chicago Stadium and wait outside, hoping a player would give him sneakers. "I remember Jerry Sloan gave me his size 15s," Thomas said. "I couldn't wear them and they were very hard to sell."
  • Asked what he thought of headbands, Thomas simply smiled. The Knicks do not ban them. In fact, Curry and Balkman wore them during the game. "We wear what the NBA allows," Thomas said.
Copyright 2014 by STATS LLC and The Associated Press. Any commercial use or distribution without the express written consent of STATS LLC and The Associated Press is strictly prohibited.
 
 
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Ben Wallace grabs 12 boards, despite playing with a hurt hand and not wearing a headband.  (Getty Images)
Ben Wallace grabs 12 boards, despite playing with a hurt hand and not wearing a headband. (Getty Images)

Scoreboard
New York (5-10) 2323221785
Chicago (4-9) «21262431102
NY:E. Curry 24 Pts
NY:D. Lee 11 Reb
NY:S. Francis 8 Ast
CHI:B. Gordon 23 Pts
CHI:B. Wallace 12 Reb
CHI:B. Gordon 6 Ast
New York
S. Francis, PG425-103-458514
S. Marbury, PG412-133-63437
E. Curry, C4010-154-880124
D. Lee, PF366-92-4111414
R. Balkman, SF233-60-05056
J. Crawford, SG303-52-40339
M. Rose, PF101-10-02242
N. Robinson, PG101-53-42115
J. James, C61-30-00012
M. Collins, PG11-20-00002
K. Cato, CDid Not Play
Q. Richardson, SFDid Not Play
J. Jeffries, SFDid Not Play
C. Frye, PFDid Not Play
Totals 33-6917-3036192785
 47.8%56.7% 
Chicago
B. Wallace, C393-62-512228
C. Duhon, PG376-103-444418
K. Hinrich, PG344-114-556413
L. Deng, SF294-114-493412
A. Nocioni, SF194-111-220210
B. Gordon, SG348-185-626123
P. Brown, PF276-92-280314
M. Allen, PF122-60-03014
T. Thomas, PF40-10-00010
A. Griffin, SF30-10-02020
V. Khryapa, SF10-00-01000
T. Sefolosha, SG10-00-00100
M. Sweetney, PFDid Not Play
A. Barrett, PGDid Not Play
M. Andriuskevicius, CDid Not Play
Totals 37-8421-28482224102
 44.0%75.0% 
Other Games
Atl 95 Final
Wash 96
Char 96 Final
NJ 92
Tor 94 Final
NO 77
Min 75 Final
Hou 82
Mem 108 Final
Den 96
Ind 105 Final
Port 97
LAC 80 Final
Sac 93
Mil 109 Final
LAL 105