Porzingis figuring things out as Knicks prevail
Kristaps Porzingis heard the roar of the fans and looked up at the scoreboard to see why they were cheering.
The board showed that Porzingis had his first 30-point game in the NBA, and the New York Knicks think it could be the first of many.
“He’s figuring everything out,” point guard Derrick Rose said. “Like, he’s going out here scoring 30 and he really don’t know the NBA yet.”
Porzingis scored a career-high 35 points and the Knicks held on for a 105-102 victory over the Detroit Pistons on Wednesday night.
The 7-foot-3 forward from Latvia hit three 3-pointers and converted a dazzling three-point play in the first half after dunking a lob pass on the fast break.
“You see the whole package tonight,” coach Jeff Hornacek said. “He was inside, he was outside. I thought he was great.”
Carmelo Anthony added 22 points to help the Knicks win their second straight. Joakim Noah bounced back nicely with seven points and 15 rebounds after he was benched in the second half of the Knicks’ victory over Dallas on Monday night while Porzingis moved to center in a smaller lineup.
Porzingis played some more center Wednesday and everywhere else on the floor, drawing “MVP! MVP!” chants while also grabbing seven rebounds.
“It was just happening, and a lot of stuff that I worked on during the summer came out,” he said.
It almost wasn’t enough, as Detroit pulled within two in the final minute and had a chance to tie but Kentavious Caldwell-Pope missed a 3-pointer on the last possession.
He finished with 21 points and Tobias Harris added 19 points and 10 rebounds for the Pistons, who had won two straight.
Porzingis was 4 for 5 for nine points in the first quarter, then had 16 more in the second quarter, highlighted by his slam that broke a 33all tie. Kyle O’Quinn had blocked a shot to trigger a fast break, with Porzingis running ahead to catch Brandon Jennings’ lob and slam it down while being fouled by Jon Leuer, landing awkwardly but getting up quickly as Knicks players from the nearby bench spilled onto the floor in celebration.
“The guy had a great night and some of what he did is unstoppable,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy said. “But when he outruns you down the floor for a dunk off a missed shot, not a turnover, that’s inexcusable.”
Pistons: Andre Drummond had 15 points and nine rebounds after missing a game with a sprained right ankle . ... Detroit is 5-0 at home but 1-6 on the road.
Knicks: Jennings averaged 14.1 points and 6.6 assists in 144 games with Detroit from 2013-16 . ... New York has won three straight and 12 of the last 14 meetings at Madison Square Garden.
A day after LeBron James criticized Knicks President Phil Jackson for using the word “posse” in an interview to describe James’ friends and business partners, Van Gundy was reflective Wednesday when thinking about his own words, calling on people to be aware of their language and attitudes.
“I’m going to be perfectly honest here, I’ve used that word before, OK,” Van Gundy said , “and when that all came out I had to ask myself, have I ever used that word before with a white player, and the answer is no. So, I think, look, you have to be aware of the language and you have to be aware a little bit of your own biases if you’re going to overcome them and so I took that seriously.”
Harris was honored with the NBA Cares Community Assist Award for October for his leadership and dedication to mentoring at-risk youth throughout the community. He’ll be presented with the award Saturday at home against Boston, and Kaiser Permanente and the NBA will donate $10,000 on his behalf to Feeding Children Everywhere.
NFL stars Von Miller of the Denver Broncos and Odell Beckham Jr. of the New York Giants were at the game.
Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis soars to basket past Pistons forward Tobias Harris during New York victory over Detroit.