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Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis trying to get used to NBA grind

Kristaps Porzingis of Latvia celebrates after being drafted

Kristaps Porzingis of Latvia celebrates after being drafted with the No. 4 overall pick by the New York Knicks during the 2015 NBA Draft at Barclays Center on June 25, 2015. Credit: Mike Stobe

LAS VEGAS - Kristaps Porzingis wasn't exactly in need of an oxygen mask as he ran up and down the floor at the Thomas & Mack Center for 24 minutes Thursday.

But the 7-3 Knicks rookie seemed a little winded in a 76-54 loss to the Warriors in the summer league, misfiring on 7 of 10 shots. He had 12 points and four rebounds.

The No. 4 overall pick had not previously played multiple games in a short amount of time. That's not how things operate in the Spanish league.

"For me, it's something new,'' the 19-year-old said. "I had at the most two games per week the first part of the season, and the second part of the season only one game per week. So you know you had time to recover, but that's not an excuse.

"That's how the NBA schedule is and I've just got to get used to it. I'm young, so I don't think I will have a problem. I've just got to prepare myself for that mentally, and be ready to go out there every night and compete, and have the same energy for the game.''

Derek Fisher knows it's going to take some time for Porzingis to get acclimated to the rigors of the NBA. Preparing your body for multiple games in a short span along with late-night travel isn't a simple task.

"We've been here for a week or so now and this is, what, our fourth game in six days?'' the Knicks coach said. "That's a lot for anybody. But Kris is used to one, maybe two games a week and then a bunch of practices. so I'm sure he's probably wearing down a little bit.''

Porzingis shot well in his first three games here, making 60 percent of his attempts. But his outside touch deserted him against the Warriors. One of the few notable plays he made came in the fourth quarter, when he stole a bad pass from Chasson Randle and flushed a righthanded fast-break dunk.

"A few of those shots were not good shots, maybe the last seconds of the clock or not in a good position to shoot it,'' Porzingis said. "That's how it is sometimes. You go in and you don't make every shot, and you've got to stay as focused as possible to make that shot.''

Spending the past week-plus in Las Vegas familiarizing himself with the Knicks' hierarchy has been important for Porzingis. Coming from Europe and carrying the burden of expectations that accompanies the Knicks' first top-five pick since Kenny Walker in 1986 is tough enough.

So getting the chance to spend time around Fisher and begin laying the groundwork for their relationship should help quell Porzingis' anxiety.

"Oh, it's great for me,'' Porzingis said. "I wanted to meet with Coach Fisher. I was watching him on TV when I was young. He's a legend and it's an honor for me to be able to learn from him, knowing that he played for so many years in the league, just how much experience he has.

"Whatever he tells me, I've got to believe it. Even if I don't think it's true maybe, I've got to believe it. So I have a lot of confidence in my coach and I think he will make me a good player.''

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