Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns hugged at midcourt a few seconds before tip-off on Friday night, seemingly intent on picking up where they’d left off two nights earlier in a second straight showcase game between the budding-star big men.
But that marquee matchup was slow to materialize, as the Knicks held Towns scoreless for nearly the entire first half before holding on for their second straight win this week over the Timberwolves, 118-114, at the Garden.
“(Towns) got us pretty good the last time, so guys took pride in that,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said. “For the most part, we made him work for everything.”
Indeed, Towns had pumped in a career-best 47 points in the Knicks’ two-point road win two nights earlier, but the No.1 overall pick in the 2015 draft missed his first six shots and didn’t score until there was 1:18 remaining in the second quarter. He finished with 20 points –shooting 5-for-16 from the floor — while Zach LaVine had 23 and Andrew Wiggins added 19 for Minnesota.
Porzingis, the No.4 overall selection in 2015, also endured a poor shooting night, missing nine of 11 shots and finishing with just 11 points in 40 minutes.
“I struggled (making shots) a little bit tonight. That’s why I think the game at the end was so close,” Porzingis said. “But I’m glad that my teammates had my back.”
Zach LaVine scored 23 points.
Carmelo Anthony broke of a recent shooting slump to net a game-high 29 points — including five three-pointers — and fill-in starter Kyle O’Quinn did an excellent job in place of injured Joakim Noah against Towns with 20 points (9-for-11) and 13 rebounds for the Knicks, who also played without starting guard Courtney Lee.
“My body felt fresh. Got my legs back underneath me,” said Anthony, who had shot just 27 percent from the floor over the previous three games. “With me, that’s the biggest thing, feeling fresh, keeping my body fresh. You could see the difference.”
Before the game, Towns revealed that he and Porzingis had talked “for a good 20 minutes” – terming it “a great conversation, about the game, but more about life” — following the Knicks’ win on Wednesday at Target Center.
With Towns off to a slow start Friday night, the Knicks jumped out to a 24-8 lead and they still held a 10-point cushion, 62-52, at intermission.
“I look at myself first. I didn’t play very well in the first half,” Towns said. “I tried to dig myself out in the second, but we can’t put ourselves in a hole like that and expect to win.”
Kristaps Porzingis endured a poor shooting night, missing nine of 11 shots from the floor and finishing with just 11 points in 40 minutes.
The Knicks (10-9) led by as many as 14 in the third, but just as they had done on Wednesday, the Timberwolves (5-14) overcame a big deficit to forge a tie in the final quarter.
Five straight points by Shabazz Muhammad, including an alley-oop dunk from LaVine, evened the score at 100 with 8:01 remaining. LaVine’s transition dunk gave Minnesota its first lead of the game about 90 seconds later.
But O’Quinn sparked a 9-2 run with three key offensive rebounds, and Derrick Rose (24 points) nailed two straight shots, as the Knicks went back up 110-104 with 2:52 to go. Porzingis and O’Quinn also combined to stuff Towns on a drive to the hoop in the final minute.
“Kyle played great,” Porzingis said. “He gave us so many second chances after missed shots. I told him that he saved my ass a little bit today.”
O’Quinn, a Queens native, even heard chants of his name from the home crowd in the fourth quarter.
“It feels good. I can’t even lie to you. It really feels good,” O’Quinn said. “It’s the energy. The fans always provide that energy. They’ve done that since Day 1 and we kind of fed off that tonight. Can’t say nothing more than it just felt good. Winning always feels good.”
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News