Nobody quite remembers draft night better than Knicks’ rookie Kristaps Porzingis, when the erratic fans relentlessly booed the Latvian big man. Maybe they should have recognized his resilience from the start. The rookie vowed to turn those boos to cheers and tonight, he lived up to that promise. After a clutch three-point play in the fourth quarter, chants of “Por-zing-is, Por-zing-is” sounded all throughout the Mecca and the Knicks went on to beat the Hornets 102-94.
Just a week after his three-point buzzer beater was waved off in a loss to the Hornets, Porzingis came back for redemption. He scored a season-high 29 points and grabbed 11 boards, demonstrating much of those Dirk Nowitzki and Kevin Durant-like qualities he was said to possess when being scouted. Just 12 games into the season, Porzingis has easily become the Knicks hero, igniting a fan base that was completely depleted from last season’s catastrophe.
During the post game Derek Fisher chided that “one thing Kris needs to learn is that tonight they love you, but just hold on.”
This is Porzingis’ fifth double double of the season, trailing rookie and first-overall pick Karl Anthony Towns by one. If he can consistently exhibit this level of play both offensively and defensively, and professionalism off the court, Knicks fans will be more than content.
Following a third quarter surge and Porzingis’ big play, the Knicks led early in the fourth by double-digits, but in similar fashion to their previous meeting with the Hornets, the lead quickly began to slip away as Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin erupted. The Knicks were unable to score for the final five minutes of the game. The ball movement, which was otherwise excellent through the game ceased, to which Fisher blamed the team becoming “a little too deliberate and concerned with the score.
Carmelo Anthony was 0-4 in those minutes, including a missed layup, but luckily for the Knicks, Charlotte took some ill-advised shots down the stretch, including an air-ball by Lin and a blocked three-point attempt by Nicolas Batum.
Named Eastern conference player of the week, Batum was held to just four points after previously scoring 33 against the Portland Trailblazers. It was Walker who led the way for the Hornets, recording a season-high 31 points.
Despite having an unimpressive shooting night, finishing with 18 points on 6-for-18, Anthony demonstrated an all-around performance not normally seen from the superstar In addition to grabbing 11 boards, Anthony dished out five assists of the team's’ 22.
Afflalo, who continues to look impressive since his debut, finished with 16 on nearly 50 percent shooting and Kevin Seraphin, who earned his minutes after his big game against the Pelicans, contributed 10.
The Hornets were once again outrebounded, a glaring issue they faced in the previous matchup, this time by 18 to the Knicks starting frontcourt. As well, the Knicks were also incredibly efficient from the free throw line, hitting 20-of-21.
Lou Amundsen left the game with a lacerated scalp in the fourth quarter after being flagrant fouled by Marvin Williams, who was then ejected. Amundsen is apparently missing a patch of his hair after taking an elbow to the forehead, but no severe injuries have been reported.
The Knicks improve to 6-6 and look forward to Friday night’s matchup, as they travel to Oklahoma City to face Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. Win or lose, one thing Knicks fans have to be happy about: Last season, it took the Knicks 42 games to get to six wins. This is a completely different Knicks team, for sure.