The Knicks seemed to be breathing a collective sigh of relief Wednesday night when Kristaps Porzingis’ ankle injury wasn’t as bad as it first appeared. An MRI done on Porzingis’ right ankle Thursday came back negative, revealing no structural damage, a league source confirmed. He’s considered day to day.
It’s possible Porzingis could play in the Knicks’ next game Sunday against the Magic, which didn’t seem plausible when he got hurt. Porzingis’ ankle rolled all the way to the right when the Heat’s Justise Winslow stepped on it early in Wednesday’s 29-point win by the Knicks.
ESPN first reported that Porzingis’ MRI was negative. The Knicks didn’t have any updates Thursday. They didn’t practice since they don’t play until Sunday.
The official word from the Knicks on Wednesday was that Porzingis suffered a sprained ankle and X-rays were negative. There was even some thought given to returning to the game, although the doctors shut him down at halftime with the Knicks leading by 21.
Afterward, the locker room was loose and lively, and Porzingis was in good spirits even though he had felt his “ankle touching the floor.” These were good signs that Porzingis had escaped a devastating injury. Usually, if a player suffers a long-term injury, he and the rest of the locker room are solemn and somber. But players were joking around with the media, and Porzingis was smiling and light. Known as the “Unicorn” for his unique skill set, Porzingis said people call him “Lizard” because of how quickly he recovers from injuries.
“ ‘Lizard’ is my secret name,” he said.
Porzingis will try his hand at comedy later Thursday when he appears as a guest on “The Tonight Show” with Jimmy Fallon. Another sign that his ankle injury may not be that serious.
Jeff Hornacek called it a “twisted ankle” and said players generally miss one to two weeks “max.” But neither Hornacek nor Porzingis ruled out playing Sunday.
“It’s a twisted ankle. We’ve all had twisted ankles,” Hornacek said. “We know that that hurts. As long as something’s not broken, you’re going to come back in a week or two, max. We were happy to see him warming up. We knew he had just sprained it. It wasn’t any Gordon Heyward thing or anything like that. He’ll get treatment from our guys and hopefully be ready next game.”
Hayward’s injury early in the Celtics’ first game was gruesome. He broke his ankle, which was evident by how his foot was twisted in the wrong direction. Hornacek said seeing that gave him “bigger chills” than what happened to Porzingis.
Porzingis’ situation was ugly nonetheless. His ankle rolled when Winslow stepped on it. Porzingis slammed his hand on the floor and needed assistance to get up and into the locker room. But Porzingis rode the stationary bike to test it and see if he could re-enter the game.
“It didn’t hurt super bad,” Porzingis said. “It was painful, obviously, but it wasn’t crazy pain. I try not to show any emotions when I get hurt. I didn’t really think much in that moment. I was like, ‘We’ll see.’ I knew it was big enough for me to get out of the game. But I didn’t want to make any conclusions. In that moment I went back in, moved around, walked a little bit. It wasn’t feeling that bad.”
Porzingis left the locker room on his own without a walking boot or crutches. But he was limping.
The three-day break could be good for other Knicks beside Porzingis. Enes Kanter returned Wednesday after missing three games with back spasms. He showed no signs of pain as he totaled 22 points and 14 rebounds. Rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina didn’t play Wednesday because of a sprained left ankle. Like Porzingis, he hopes to return Sunday.