NEW YORK -- For one afternoon, the jeers were silenced, the coach's job seemed a bit safer.
Around here, a lot can change with one win.
"In New York, you're either dead or alive," Knicks coach Isiah Thomas said. "You lose a game and you're dead and you win one and you basically get to survive."
"It's either love or hate and you're either dead or alive," Thomas added. "And today, we're alive and we're loved."
Stephon Marbury shook off the boos from the home fans to add 19 points, including a pair of jumpers after Chicago had rallied to tie the game. Zach Randolph also had a pair of clutch buckets during the closing minutes and finished with 20 points.
Both teams are off to dismal starts, but the Knicks probably needed a win more. Chicago has overcome its poor early season play in recent years, but New York couldn't afford to let things get much worse, especially with plenty of speculation already that Thomas could be fired.
Quentin Richardson grabbed 15 rebounds for the Knicks, who opened their first double-digit lead of the season in the first half, then blew all of it before recovering to win for the first time since the third game of the season.
"We can go to dinner tonight," Thomas said. "May not be able to go tomorrow night, but tonight we can all go out to dinner and show our faces in town.
Andres Nocioni had 23 points and nine rebounds for the Bulls, who dropped their third straight and fell to 2-9. They are 1-4 on a six-game road trip. Starting forward Luol Deng missed his third consecutive game with lower back pain.
"I don't look at life through the lens of self doubt. I just don't. I never have," Bulls coach Scott Skiles said. "I have total belief in myself and my staff. We've just got to stay with it. Somehow we've got to find a way to step up and make shots."
Ben Gordon, who usually plays well here close to his Mount Vernon, N.Y., home, scored 13 points but was only 4-of-17 from the floor.
Marbury has been booed before and during the opening minutes of both home games since he responded to his removal from the starting lineup by skipping a game in Phoenix. But the fans were back on his side after he snapped a 73-73 tie with a jumper, then added another almost two minutes later for a 78-75 lead.
"I'm going to stay within myself," Marbury said. "I know what happened and it's behind me, and like I said I'm moving forward. Going forward is the only option that I have, I can't concentrate on things that I can't control."
Thomas repeated before the game that this wasn't the time to make changes, and brushed off the idea he needed a public statement of support from Madison Square Garden chairman James Dolan, who wasn't watching from his usual baseline seat.
Thomas said only wins will quiet the increasing speculation his time in New York is running out.
Following pregame boos for Thomas and Marbury, both teams struggled with the early starting time. New York shot 5-of-17 (29 percent) in the first quarter, but trailed only 19-18 at the end of the period.
The Knicks picked it up a bit in the second, while the Bulls played an even more pathetic period.
Chicago missed 12 of 16 shots and committed nine turnovers, and New York gradually pulled away from a 24-24 tie with a 15-3 run over a span of more than six minutes. Curry's short hook shot gave the Knicks a 39-27 lead, and they were up 43-31 at the half.
The Knicks were ahead 65-54 headed to the fourth, but the Bulls made their first five shots, including a pair of 3-pointers by Nocioni, to trim the deficit to 68-67 with 8:49 to play. Chicago tied it twice later in the period, but went cold again down the stretch and could never take the lead.
"We had some moments where we could have folded or where we have folded in the past, but today we just kept thinking we were going to win," Curry said.
- Deng worked out before the game, but the Bulls didn't think he was ready to play on consecutive days, so they held him out in hopes that he can go Sunday afternoon in Toronto in the second of a rare, back-to-back day game set.
- Thomas acknowledged before the game Richardson is not 100 percent healthy. In six games since missing a game with a hyperextended right elbow, Richardson is 10-of-45 from the field. He was 1-of-8 Saturday and didn't even attempt a shot in Wednesday's loss at Detroit.
- The Bulls are 0-4 against the Atlantic Division.