For all the criticism the Knicks received from their haul for Porzingis, it became the ideal night for Dennis Smith Jr., the last remaining player piece from the January transaction, to have, so far, his best game of the season, with nine points, four rebounds and four assists before the third quarter. Fans interrupted the national anthem and let out screams of "Go back to Latvia" and "Traitor". In a hard-nosed city like NY, filled with die-hard Knicks fans who just want to see their team be successful, it's hard living up to the lofty expectations laid out by the franchise's top executives when the roster often doesn't mirror the expectations they have. On Wednesday, Porzingis said that if social media were any indication, he expected a negative response.
"I get it around this league", Knicks forward Marcus Morris said, "but it was a different level". I heard it and it was pretty loud. "But I tried to play my game, stay focused and not think too much about what is happening outside". We'll now have to see how Porzingis reacts if the Mavericks lose to the Knicks.
Amidst a sea of boos and with fans chanting KP sucks every time he had ball possession, Porzingis still managed to score 20 points and grabbed 11 rebounds. He's averaging 28.7 points, 10.3 rebounds and 9.3 assists while shooting 47.9 percent from the field, 31.0 percent from beyond the arc and 83.3 percent from the free-throw line.
Porzingis was playing at MSG for the first time since his ACL was broken on February 6, 2018. "They can play and they can play well", he said. "We came here to win a game and we are frustrated that we didn't".
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"I've been coming here for a long time". Porzingis said late Thursday that he felt his old club was "extra motivated" to face he and the Mavs. Tim Hardaway Jr., who was part of the trade with Porzingis, scored 12 points off the bench.
The crowd's energy also sparked a good return from Mitchell Robinson, who returned from a concussion to post 14 points, seven rebounds and one block in 15 minutes.
NY traded Porzingis, its first-round pick in the 2015 draft, to Dallas in February in a blockbuster deal involving six players and two first-round picks.