CHARLOTTE, N.C. - Patrick Ewing hadn't seen much of Kristaps Porzingis before Wednesday night, but the Knicks' legend saw enough to know the rookie is making an impact. Ewing has watched highlights of Porzingis' putback dunks and in the pregame walk-through, the Hornets' coaches stressed keeping the Latvian off the offensive boards.
"He's a force to be reckoned with," said Ewing, the Hornets' associate head coach. "He looks like he's going to be a fine addition to their team."
Ewing's name has come up a lot recently because of Porzingis. He's doing things statistically that no Knicks rookie has done since Ewing 30 years ago. Porzingis came into Wednesday night averaging 11.8 points and team-leading 8.3 rebounds, despite playing only 23.7 minutes per game.
Porzingis is a much different player than Ewing was. The Hall of Famer noted that and said Porzingis fits in with today's NBA.
"He's 7-3, but he's a perimeter big," Ewing said. "When I played, the bigs, if you're 7-3 you'd be on the blocks. I think he has a versatile game. His game is suited to the way the NBA is right now."
"He's been doing a very good job. He's not just out there shooting the jump shot. He's getting in there getting offensive rebounds. He's not a finesse big. He's making his presence known."
Videos of Porzingis' put-back dunks are online already and he said friends in Latvia have been reaching out and texting him. "Everybody's going crazy," Porzingis said. "But I've been doing this for a while."
The Knicks had their full 14-man roster available for the first time, and had to deactivate a "healthy" player. Cleanthony Early was inactive . . . The Knicks could face the Thunder without Kevin Durant on Nov. 20 in Oklahoma City. Durant has a strained left hamstring and will be revaluated in 7-10 days.