Porzingis rebounding from funk entering Knicks – Heat

By on January 6, 2016


Wednesday, January 6, 2016, 2:36 PM

MIAMI — The full offensive repertoire was on freakish display from Kristaps Porzingis in Atlanta, the type of stuff that prompts a glance back at his measurements in disbelief: is this guy really 7-foot-3?

In a span of 10 minutes in the third quarter of Tuesday’s victory over the Hawks, Porzingis converted a fadeaway, a pull-up jumper, a stepback jumper, a lefty hook and a lefty lay-in. The rookie believes it’s all coming together, a scary proposition to any defender trying to stop these virtually unblockable shots.

“You do that work and it doesn’t come out immediately. But now you keep playing and it comes out of nowhere, you just do it instinctively,” he said. “And I think it’s coming out now finally.”

In an offensive funk for the majority of the previous four weeks — which still didn’t preclude Porzingis from winning Rookie of the Month for December — Tuesday’s 17-point, 11-rebound efficient effort represented the Latvian’s best game since at least Dec. 23. There was even a putback dunk in the opening quarter, the first since he led the league — and Sportscenter highlights — in that category in late November.


“Yeah, finally,” he said. “It’s been awhile.”

Chris Bosh, who will go head-to-head with Porzingis for the third time Wednesday night in Miami, tried to publicly cool Porzingis fever at its height not long after Thanksgiving. He said the rookie’s success was predicated on the lack of attention from defenses, with an implication that Porzingis isn’t good enough to handle a hand in his face.

Kristaps Porzingis dunks on the Hawks on Monday night.Scott Cunningham/NBAE/Getty Images

In the two games against the Heat prior to Wednesday, Porzingis averaged 15.5 points and 11 boards on 41 percent shooting. The Knicks were blown out both times.

But Wednesday’s breakthrough in Atlanta had Porzingis touting a turned corner, as well as an improved weapon to combat pressure in his off-hand.

“It’s coming out now. I’ve not only been working on not only the hook shot with the left hand, but also just shooting with my left hand,” he said. “I think finally I’m feeling more comfortable shooting hook shots with the left and I have a better shot with my left hand. Now I’m able to use it more.”

Even after benching Porzingis in the fourth quarter of multiple games, coach Derek Fisher has been consistent in stating the Knicks are better when he’s on the floor. He outlined the reasons Tuesday, while acknowledging the offense still doesn’t run through Porzingis.


“He’s versatile offensively so he puts a lot of pressure on defenses in terms of his ability to stretch the floor and shoot the ball, which makes pick-and-roll a challenge. But he’s also a dynamic athlete so that when he rolls to the rim it also creates pressure defensively for teams where they have to respect his ability to play around the basket. We’re not utilizing him as like a featured one-on-one player, but definitely when he’s on the floor, we’re a better team.”

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