Kristaps Porzingis needed only five steps once he took the outlet pass. Five hops from halfcourt to just outside the right side of the paint, where the Knicks forward leaped for the basket.
Memphis guard Andrew Harrison trailed the play and gave Porzingis a shove, hoping to thwart the easy two points. But Porzingis finished, both the dunk and the free throw in the third quarter of New York’s 111-104 victory Saturday night – demonstrating the type of freakish size and agility that should carry this team for years to come.
“I don’t why somebody would try to contest a 7-3 guy on the break like that,” coach Jeff Hornacek said with a smile.
Porzingis dropped a game-high 21 points against the Grizzlies, but everybody contributed to the impressive home opener. Derrick Rose dazzled with his quickness and crossover dribble, wowing the crowd with a hesitation move he used to make defender Mike Conley look silly. Joakim Noah provided defensive intensity with 10 rebounds and seven assists. Carmelo Anthony added 20 points on 15 shots.
The Knicks never trailed in front of an excited crowd, and went on a game-breaking run midway through the fourth quarter after the Grizzlies cut the deficit to 2. A big part of the run was the defense of Noah, who checked in with 8:36 remaining and immediately started clapping and yelling in the face of Grizzlies forward Zach Randolph.
Kristaps Porzingis dropped a game-high 21 points against the Grizzlies.
“Me and him are good friends,” Randolph said, laughing. “He always does that.”
It took less than two quarters for the Garden fans to chant Noah’s name. They did it again in the fourth quarter, when he iced the victory on the foul line with 2:36 remaining. That was just before he fouled out with a 10-point advantage and to a nice ovation.
But Porzingis was the offensive star. In his previous game against the Grizzlies last season, the Latvian was bullied and pounded into ineffectiveness by Memphis physical defense. On Saturday, the 21-year-old punished them on 7 of 11 shooting.
He said the third-quarter dunk – which gave the Knicks a 16-point lead after the free throw – was a product of his offseason work.
Derrick Rose dazzled in his MSG debut.
(Michael Reaves/Getty Images)
“”When I was running, I was thinking, ‘I have to dunk it.’ I wanted to go off of two legs and go strong to the basket. And I was able to get to the rim with him trying to foul me,” Porzingis said. “So I think the work that I put in during the summer, the little bit of the leg strength that I gained helped me in that situation.”
The Grizzlies (1-1), who shelled out big money in free agency, were shorthanded without Chandler Parsons (knee) and Tony Allen (knee). They started three players – James Ennis, Andrew Harrison and JaMychal Green – who were all in the D-League as recently as 2015. So the Knicks (1-1) had the advantage, and they took it. The victory was a nice response to their drubbing in Cleveland three days earlier.
The Knicks came off the tip inspired, building a 16-point lead in the first quarter with strong ball movement and defense. The newcomers made a solid first impression.
Rose, who hadn’t played at the Garden in the preseason while away on trial, rejected Mike Conley on a drive two minutes into the game. Courtney Lee, who was scoreless in the opener in Cleveland, dropped nine of his 16 points in the first quarter. Noah was the best passer on the floor, logging six assists. But Memphis closed the half on a 14-5 run to cut the deficit to 8 at the break, and had two chances to either tie the score or take the lead in the fourth quarter. That’s when the Knicks rallied off 12 straight points – including a big 3-pointer from Porzingis – to win for the first time under Hornacek.
Source: NY Daily News Headlines Sports News