The Big Ballers were in Madison Square Garden Tuesday night, but the Knicks had the biggest and best baller in the building.
Kristaps Porzingis scored a game-high 37 points, grabbed 11 rebounds and blocked five shots to lead the Knicks to a 113-109 overtime victory over the Lakers in Lonzo Ball’s Garden debut.
“This is probably just the tip of the iceberg for him,” Jeff Hornacek said. “This is only his third year in the league. To put up these numbers is something else. He’s going to get better and better every year.
“He’s fun to watch out there.”
Ball’s presence brought out his outspoken father LaVar, and celebrities, including Lakers president and Hall of Famer Magic Johnson and Giants wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr.
But Porzingis and the late-game performances of Michael Beasley and Frank Ntilikina brought the Knicks fans to their feet at the end.
Porzingis became the first player in NBA history to record 30-plus points, 10 rebounds, five blocks and five three-pointers made in the same game.
“It’s an honor that I’m capable of doing something that has never been done,” Porzingis said. “But that doesn’t help us make the playoffs. We want to make the playoffs and do something big as a team. I’m just playing. It’s pretty cool to get cool stats and so on but I’m just doing what I can to help the team win.”
Porzingis, who missed a three-pointer at the buzzer in regulation, got the help he needed for the Knicks (14-13) to earn their second straight win.
With all the attention on Ball, Ntilikina showed some of the mettle and defense that have the Knicks believing he can be a big part of their future. The rookie point guard played the final 21:04 of the game and finished with 13 points, including seven straight in the fourth quarter.
Beasley, who fouled out in Sunday night’s game in 9:49, was having another rough night. He was 0-for-5 heading to the fourth. But Hornacek stuck with him, and Beasely made plays.
He had some nice passes and was very active defensively. Beasley scored 12 of his 13 points in the fourth quarter and overtime with six coming in the extra session. Beasley said he had only one thought down the stretch.
“Win,” he said. “Do what the team needs bring energy, be tenacious.”
Kentavious Caldwell-Pope led the Lakers (10-16) with 24 points. Kyle Kuzma added 19. And Ball finished with 17 points, eight rebounds and six assists.
There was a different buzz at the Garden for a game against an opponent that didn’t have a superstar on its roster. It’s too soon to know if Ball will be one, but he certainly elicits reactions from people — because of his father.
LaVar, the creator of the Big Baller Brand of athletic apparel and footwear, and his two younger sons LiAngelo and LaMelo sat courtside. LaVar was up on his feet, waving his arms and high-fiving fans during a strong third-quarter stretch by his son that included an alley-oop dunk. But Lonzo couldn’t lift the Lakers in this hotly contested game.
Neither team led by more than six points over the last 32.29. The Knicks had a chance to win it in regulation, but they squandered a five-point lead over the final 49.9 seconds.
In the overtime, Beasley played huge. His tip in gave the Knicks a 105-103 lead with 2:33 remaining. After a stop, Beasley fed Doug McDermott for a layup to make it a four-point game. The Knicks went ahead 109-103 after a Beasley driving layup with 1:29 to go.
“He was on the attack,” Hornacek said. “The first half I thought he was just kind of trying to just cruise his way through it maybe. But then the second half I kind of told him, ‘I need you step it up and attack these guys,’ and he did that. He put the ball in the hole. Mike gave us a big lift in that second half.”
After a Brandon Ingram basket made it a 109-105, Porzingis drove and scored to put the Knicks back up by six with 52.9 seconds to go.
Following a turnover and a miss, the Knicks let the Lakers draw within 111-109 with 1.6 seconds remaining. Porzingis was fouled with six-tenths of a second left and he made both to ice the game.
“It was a long entertaining game,” a relieved Porzingis said. “It was tough physically. I can feel it on my body right now. But I think it was a good show for the fans.”