Kristaps Porzingis is already having a tough year, and the season hasn’t even started.
First, there was the injury — Porzingis hurt his hip in an ugly loss to the Nets on Sunday and was forced to sit out the game Monday. Then there was the insult. After Porzingis left Sunday, MSG broadcasters Alan Hahn and Wally Szczerbiak were caught on a hot mic saying less-than-glowing words about the new face of the franchise.
“The other thing you could do is just kill Porzingis for being minus-20 in 16 minutes,” said Hahn, a former Newsday sportswriter, in audio that was posted to Twitter by @LifeAsKorleone. Szczerbiak agreed with him before Hahn continued. “Dude, like come on, man, you’re a star. This is what you’re doing. You’re just out there? . . . A lot to learn.”
Porzingis was not available to the media before the Knicks’ 117-95 loss to the Rockets, but it’s clear that this is the latest blow on what has all the makings of a challenging few weeks. He said goodbye to Carmelo Anthony, whom he considered a mentor and now, in his third season in the league, must spearhead a young team searching for an identity and still learning how to play team defense.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said he doesn’t believe Porzingis’ hip injury is serious, but noted that the 22-year-old is “having some issues lifting his leg.”
“He said he went out there last game and he felt it a little bit when he was playing,” Hornacek said, adding that Porzingis couldn’t quite pinpoint when he injured it. “Then when he really took a stride, I think there was just a little soreness in there . . . [He’ll have] treatment a couple of times a day and get him ready.
Porzingis saw a doctor Monday, but Hornacek didn’t think he had any tests on the hip, which the Knicks believe is just sore. He hopes to have Porzingis back for the final preseason game on Friday.
Notes & quotes: Michael Beasley started at power forward against the Rockets and shot 7-for-11 and finished with 17 points. Beasley fell and landed on his elbow in the second half and had to leave the game. He appeared in a sling after the game but said X-rays were negative and that the injury looked worse than it was . . . Rookie Frank Ntilikina missed his third straight preseason game and still has lingering soreness in his bruised knee, Hornacek said. “He’s still trying to get the swelling out,” and has had shots on the ailing knee. Hornacek said he hopes the point guard will start doing more work Wednesday . . . Monday did, however, herald the return of Ron Baker, who had been suffering from a left ankle sprain that has hobbled him this training camp. “Ron’s another one of those guys who’s not afraid to bang, hit, scratch, claw, whatever he has to do,” Hornacek said. Baker played 17 minutes with four assists, four turnovers and didn’t score.