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Kristaps Porzingis on off night: ‘Thanks to me the game was closer’

Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis looks on as he

Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis looks on as he leaves a game against the Celtics at Madison Square Garden on Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. Credit: Jim McIsaac

He looked more donkey than unicorn on Thursday night, but at least Kristaps Porzingis had a sense of humor about it.

The Knicks star returned from the left knee ailment that sidelined him for the previous two games and turned in the worst performance of his three-year career. In the Knicks’ scintillating 102-93 win at the Garden, Porzingis scored one point and shot 0-for-11 from the floor. It was only the third time he’d failed to sink a field-goal attempt; there was a scoreless 0-for-6 performance in his rookie season and a three-point 0-for-4 last season.

“Thanks to me the game was closer and I kept it close,” Porzingis said.

“Kobe says you miss 100 percent of the shots you don’t take,” he added with a smile. “Today I missed all hundred.”

Porzingis missed all six shots he took in the first quarter and all five he took in the second. He didn’t take a shot in the third because he said his emphasis at that point was “try to make the right play.”

He scored his only point on a free throw with 9:42 left in the third quarter. His last play of the game was a turnover with 5:20 left in the third, after which his frustration boiled over.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek took him out of the game there but he seemed to need to walk the frustration off before taking a seat. Porzingis called it “a bad moment for me.”

Porzingis was asked if the knee played a role in the poor performance and replied “no . . . not at all. [I] just wasn’t in rhythm and early on the game just didn’t come to me.”

He did say that there were a couple instances where he felt something in the knee but added there “was nothing major where I was worried about it.”

“He was probably rusty; He hasn’t played in six days, seven days and to come back like that? He just had one of those nights,” Hornacek said. “Balls were in and out . . . I’m sure he wanted to come out and play well, but our team won and he’s happy about that.”

With Porzingis out, the play of the Michael Beasley-led second unit keyed the victory. When Porzingis came out of the game, the Knicks were down nine points. The second unit propelled the Knicks to a tie score by the end of the third quarter and past Boston in the fourth.

“Michael Beasley had my back tonight,” Porzingis said.

Asked about not getting back in the game, Porzingis said “of course I wanted to be in there and I felt like I could have helped. I always feel that way, but the second unit was playing great and that’s who we kept on the floor and they finished the job.”

The 23 minutes Thursday means that he should be able to play starters’ minutes Friday in Detroit unless the knee reacts badly.

“This game is going to give me extra motivation to come to the next game and have a much better game,” Porzingis said. “To bounce back from this: that’s my mentality right now.”

New York Sports