Kristaps Porzingis is the future of the Knicks, and he hopes not being involved in the offense is a thing of the past.
The 7-3 Porzingis often is the biggest guy on the floor, but it seemed the Knicks forgot he was there in Wednesday night’s loss to Houston. He was held without a field goal (on four shots) for only the second time in his two-year career and scored only three points.
The Knicks made a conscious effort to find him in Friday night’s 117-104 win over Chicago and gave him the ball when he had mismatches. Porzingis led the Knicks with 27 points.
“Maybe it’s like a reality check,” Porzingis said. “Things were going my way, but I can’t get too comfortable. I’ve got to be always better, I’ve got to be aggressive. I saw a situation where I could be more aggressive and where I can attack, and I’m happy that we played the way we played.”
Everything was working for the Knicks, who placed all five starters in double figures and shot 51.7 percent from the field.
Derrick Rose, in his first game back in Chicago, had his best all-around game as a Knick and played the way he did when he was the 2010-11 league MVP. Rose finished with 15 points, 11 assists — one more than he had totaled in the first four games — and seven rebounds.
Rose said that’s the kind of floor game he can play consistently.
“I’m going to figure it out,” he said. “That’s what being great is all about or chasing greatness is all about, figuring out the game and adjusting to the NBA at that time.”
The Knicks, who will host the Utah Jazz this afternoon, remain a work in progress on both ends of the floor. Their defense has been the biggest issue, but getting used to playing with each other and in the triangle offense has been difficult for them.
The biggest difference Friday night from the previous two games, which they lost by a combined 32 points, was that they scored in transition, mixed in more pick-and-rolls in their sets and shared the ball. The Knicks had a season-high 32 assists, and Porzingis was the biggest beneficiary.
Before the game, Jeff Hornacek said the Knicks have to do a better job of finding Porzingis, especially when he has a mismatch. With his size, that’s just about every time down the floor.
There were times when the Bulls switched and Rajon Rondo or Dwyane Wade wound up on Porzingis, who is nearly a foot taller than they are. Rose and Carmelo Anthony noticed it and gave him the ball, and Porzingis posted them up and scored inside or drew a foul. He shot 10-for-15 from the field.
“We all realize that we have to use those mismatches that we have,” he said. “Whether it’s me, Melo or whoever it is. I don’t know if teammates reacted to that or they just knew. I guess it’s just reading the game. Teammates were able to find me and get me in good positions where I could shoot over those guys.”
When the Knicks take the Garden floor today against the Jazz it will be interesting to see if they play with the same desperation and focus. It was obvious that they rode the emotion of Rose and Joakim Noah being back in Chicago for the first time as visiting players.
“I think it was pretty obvious that we were definitely a team that was dealing with a couple losses,” Noah said. “In New York City, when you lose a couple games, you definitely feel it. When you win, it’s the best. But when you lose, they’re on you. It was good to bounce back. I think our team is going to keep growing. We need that adversity. That’s when you know what a team is really made of.”