Porzingis has a holiday gift for Knicks fans, will play on Xmas

A 7-3 Latvian will be delivered and unwrapped at the Garden on Christmas morning.

Kristaps Porzingis said he was held out of contact portions of practice Friday because of his contused knee but pledged to play Sunday against the Celtics.

“What’s today? We still got Saturday and then we play Sunday,” Porzingis said. “I’ll be ready.”

The 22-year-old sensation then did his best to hype up a noon showdown in Manhattan, which will be his first Christmas game because the Knicks – coming off their 65-loss disaster in 2014-15 – weren’t part of the slate last season.

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“Oh it’s going to be huge. At the Garden? The atmosphere was already unbelievable,” Porzingis said. “I can’t imagine what’s going to happen on Sunday. I’m looking forward to it.”

During Thursday’s victory over the Magic, Porzingis banged knees with Nikola Vucevic and was removed in the fourth quarter. He called it “a sharp pain” with “a little inflammation in the tendon and the bone.” Porzingis expects to go through practice fully on Saturday.

Kristaps Porzingis is looking forward to another shot at the Celtics on Xmas day at the Garden.

Kristaps Porzingis is looking forward to another shot at the Celtics on Xmas day at the Garden.

(Elise Amendola/AP)

“Just wearing those Christmas jerseys is special,” Porzingis said, referencing the custom uniforms for the game. “But everything about it, you want to have a good Christmas and win a game and celebrate with your family. It’s going to be a big game for us.”

The Celtics (17-12) blew out the Knicks (16-13) by 28 points last month, and Porzingis’ career record against the division rival is 1-4. Boston has actually used point guard Marcus Smart to guard Porzingis at times, and the Knicks didn’t respond well.

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“I know what to expect now, and I think the rest of the team knows we have to try to use that advantage right away,” Porzingis said. “That helps. We talk about it, let’s get the ball in the post and let’s make them pay once or twice and they will try to do something else. We got to try to use that if they do that. We got to try and use it right away. Hopefully I can be effective and that way we can make them make changes.

“It’s going to be like a redemption game for us,” he added. “We didn’t play well (last month) and all the other stuff wasn’t going our way, it was just a tough game for us. We want it. We want it especially at home. We want to redeem ourselves.”

Porzingis, who missed 10 games last season due to illness and injury, said one of his goals this season is play all 82.

Kristaps Porzingis, seen here in action against the Warriors, vows to be ready to go on Sunday.

Kristaps Porzingis, seen here in action against the Warriors, vows to be ready to go on Sunday.

(Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)

“Yeah. I want to do it. I want to do it just to prove that I can do it, that my body can hold up,” he said. “I’m really paying a lot of attention to all the recovery and making sure I’m ready for every game. Hopefully I have a long career in the NBA, it’s going to be important for me to know how hard it is and being ready for every game, knowing my team needs me.”

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“(I want to prove it) to myself and everybody from outside looking in at a skinny Euro. Obviously it’s tough for my body but I want to go through it. I know I can. Hopefully I can stay healthy the rest of the season and keep going.”

* * *

For Jeff Hornacek, Sunday will represent his first game on Christmas – whether as a player or a coach – since 1997 as a guard with the Jazz.

Part of the reason is that the former owner of the Jazz, Larry Miller, was a Mormon who didn’t want the team to play on Sundays or holidays.

“Which was great,” Hornacek said. “We had a lot of Sundays off.”

Tags:
nba
new york knicks
kristaps porzingis
sports injuries
boston celtics
christmas
holidays
jeff hornacek

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