SALT LAKE CITY — Bobby Portis came off the floor from his pregame workout, drenched in sweat. A lot was expected of him Wednesday night and he was ready for it, but mostly just pleased that he would have the opportunity.
Portis avoided a suspension as the NBA opted to fine him $25,000, “for recklessly making contact above the shoulders of an airborne shooter.” The Flagrant Foul 2 occurred in the second quarter of Tuesday’s loss to the Lakers when Portis chased down Kentavious Caldwell-Pope and swiped from behind to try to block the shot. He came hard across the head of the Lakers guard, sending him into the locker room to undergo concussion protocol testing.
Portis was relieved to escape the suspension, particularly since the Knicks were without Marcus Morris and Julius Randle, meaning he was pushed into a starting assignment. He finished with 13 points and 13 rebounds on 5-for-17 shooting against the Jazz.
“Yeah, for sure. I mean, when you get ejected, get a tech or anything, obviously, it’s going to come with a fine,” Portis said. “Didn’t know it’d be that much, but I’m grateful to not be suspended and I’m grateful for him not being injured. Like I said, it wasn’t intentional. Just trying to make a hard play on the ball. I go out there and play 100 percent every time I’m out there. It was a bad situation at the time, but looking back on it I am grateful.
Portis insisted after the game that the blow was unintentional, although it was an easy call for the officials. He said that he spoke with league officials Wednesday and explained his thoughts on the foul.
“Yeah, I talked to everybody. Everything was resolved,” Portis said. “I think we are on the same page. Everybody knows I’m not a dirty player, not trying to hurt anybody. Just play hard, play with passion, play with energy. It’s what I’m built of, my M.O. It’s who I am. That’s all that was.”
The fine didn’t exactly change him — as he was assessed a Flagrant Foul 1 with 3:54 remaining in the third quarter Wednesday as he struck a lesser, but similar blow to the head of Bojan Bogdanovic with the Knicks trailing, 89-63. Portis went to the bench and buried his head in a towel.
Randle remains behind
Julius Randle did not travel with the Knicks, remaining behind to be with his family for an undisclosed personal matter.