Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis is off to a great start, and it’s much better than anyone would have guessed. And because of it, he seems to be getting a little bit of confidence, if not cockier from that. So much so that on his Twitter account about the upcoming games against the Nets, he claimed: “I know our fans are better than Brooklyn’s fans.”
Porzingis has been known to be a cocky fellow, but coaches and teammates say that it’s cockiness in the best way possible. He’s not arrogant many claim, he’s just got swagger. And it’s just in time to razzle the fans since he’s taking that trait to try to revive a Knicks-Nets rivalry which has dwindled in recent times.
Currently the Knicks have a decent record of 9-10, and the Brooklyn Nets are far worse off at 5-13.
Coach Phil Jackson recently told media that Knicks rookie sensation Porzingis does have a “magical element” to him. And the fans agree. Porzingis has been serenaded in Madison Square Garden by the faithful, who chant his name everytime he hits the court. That’s how he further endeared himself to fans Friday nigh, when he helped the Knicks hand their cross state rivals, the Nets, a seventh straight road loss.
Jackson had high praise for Porzingis in a radio interview, saying “there’s the magical element to this young man that has caught the admiration, I think, of the fan base here in New York City and people around the country that do follow the Knicks.”
He leads all rookies in the NBA with nine double-doubles and a 9.3 rebounding average. He ranks third in scoring at 13.8 points per game. His figure of plus-3.1 ranks second among lottery picks. This rapid rise has won over New York’s fan base almost instantly.
“We obviously felt very strongly about drafting him at No. 4, we liked a lot of things about him and thought he would be a great selection,” coach Derek Fisher said. “So far although it wasn’t approved at first, it seems to have turned a little bit.”
Wednesday they won 99-87 over Philadelphia snapping a four-game losing streak. The 7-foot-1 Porzingis had 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks in that game as New York held on to a 52-32 edge in points in the paint.
Last year, the Knicks lost all four 2014-15 games with the Nets. Now they’ll look get some revenge against its nearest rival.
But even though Brooklyn has the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference, because of how well they play the Knicks, Friday’s matchup won’t be a cake walk.
The Nets have only been able to put together a few wins for the first time since April to start off a nine-game stretch where they won’t leave New York. Tonight will be the only ‘road game’.
“Win a bunch of those games, just keep playing hard, take it one game at a time and just see what we can do,” Net’s guard Shane Larkin told media.
Larkin will be returning to face the Knicks for the first time since he recorded a team-high 1,865 minutes over last season’s 82 games, going a devastating 17-65.
Brook Lopez, so far has led the Nets with 20.1 points per game, and he will match up against his own brother, and first-year Knicks center Robin Lopez. The twins so far, has met seven times as starters. Brook Lopez is averaging 24.1 points and 8.0 rebounds in those seven games while brother Robin, is averaging 13.1 and 6.0 with his team winning four times out of seven.
A nice team effort got them a key win in Tuesday’s game over Phoenixm 94-91. Larkin had a basket with 4:08 minutes left, that put Brooklyn ahead for the rest of the game. Lopez had 23 points and the Nets were able to limit the Suns to 37.5 percent fourth-quarter shooting.
“It shows how much we’ve actually been growing,” Lopez said. “We’ve definitely seen results in the win column but it’s been a progression all season long.”
The Nets played well in their last game on the road, despite their losing streak of six games. And it was their longest slide since losing their final seven games played in the 2010-11 season. They lost 90-88 in Cleveland this past Saturday on a LeBron James’ last-second buzzer beater.
Only their center, Andrea Bargnani will miss a game tonight, his second straight game out with a hamstring injury.
It should be an interetsing match up even though they are not Titans, the energy should be electric. It will be the 180th regular-season meeting between these teams, with the Knicks leading by a slight 90-89 record. We think the Nets will even it out.
Our Pick: Nets over Knicks, 106-98