TORONTO — Kristaps Porzingis tried to soak up and enjoy every moment of the NBA All-Star Weekend experience, but he also is looking forward to soaking up some sun.
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Porzingis already has played nearly 500 minutes more than he did all of last season for Seville in Spain, and it has taken its toll. He feels fatigued and needs a break.
That’s why the Knicks rookie, with some counseling from the people closest to him, passed on taking part in any of Saturday’s events. They decided long before the Knicks ended the break on a six-game losing streak that he would play only in Friday night’s Rising Stars Challenge.
Porzingis scored 30 points, shooting 12-for-16 overall and 5- for-8 on three-pointers, for the World team in a 157-154 loss to the United States. Zach LaVine, who scored 30 for the U.S., was named the MVP.
Porzingis and his family are flying to a tropical location Saturday for a little rest and relaxation. “I decided with my family and my team, they want me to rest a little bit for the second part of the season,” he said. “I just want to have a fresh mind, especially after this bad streak that we had at the end. I think we all, the New York Knicks team, needed to disconnect a little bit and come back with a fresh mind, fresh body, and figure out how to win games.”
After he enjoyed a terrific start to the season, injuries began to take its toll on him. He played with foot and shoulder issues and jammed fingers and felt run down overall. “You can feel it in your body,” he said. “There were a few moments I wasn’t playing that well and my energy wasn’t that high. I think this will be a good break for me to get away, rest my body and come back better.”
The Knicks don’t return to practice until Wednesday, so he has time to get refreshed.
Porzingis has played better than anyone could have imagined after the Knicks took the relatively unknown big man with the fourth pick in last June’s draft. He has averaged 13.9 points, 7.7 rebounds and 1.94 blocks. Players around the league have noticed how good he is, and teammate Carmelo Anthony had some high compliments for him Friday.
“He brought a new energy that I think we were looking for as a city, as a team, as an organization,” Anthony said. “I don’t think he understands how good he is and how much better he’s going to get.”
Porzingis felt bad about the firing of Derek Fisher, but he said he doesn’t question team president Phil Jackson or general manager Steve Mills. “They know what they’re doing,” he said. “Especially Phil and Steve, they have a lot of experience. I’m nobody to judge their decisions. I felt guilty for that happening, but you got to move forward.”