If he had scored on the ensuing offensive possession, after making one of the defensive highlights of the 2016-17 NBA season, Kristaps Porzingis would have created his own stat — the triple single.
Many times over the last two seasons, Knicks fans have been wowed by the exploits of the 7-foot-3 forward.
He quickly gained entry into an elite fraternity that includes the likes of Anthony Davis, Karl-Anthony Towns and Nikola Jokic — big men that can shoot the three, handle, pass, rebound and block shots.
Years from now, Knicks fans will still talk about the play Porzingis made Sunday at Barclays Center. With 8:03 left in a 120-112 loss to the Nets, Brooklyn’s Spencer Dinwiddie drove right and seemingly had a clear path to the basket.
Dinwiddie went up for a layup and what happened next left the building buzzing, and a majority fans not believing if they could trust what they had just seen.
Porzingis came from behind and went up with his right arm. He blocked Dinwiddie’s layup, and in the same motion, cupped the ball with his right hand.
In one play, KP posted a blocked shot and a rebound.
It led to a Courtney Lee layup that brought the Knicks to within 101-93. New York couldn’t complete the comeback, but Porzingis, who was slowed midway through the season with a sore Achilles tendon and a stomach bug, continued his strong resurgence.
Porzingis finished with 19 points on 7-of-16 shooting, 2-of-6 on threes, 3-of-4 from the line, five blocks and four assists. The future face of the Knicks is disappointed with the team’s 26-41 record, but he is confident in the franchise’s future.
“Something I don’t think about too much,” Porzingis said. “I focus on this moment. It’s going really bad right now, but I’m doing the best I can. Hopefully, the situation gets better. Once next season comes, it’s a different year, a new life. Right now, we’ve got to keep fighting.
“It’s going to come. I know it if we do all the right things. Right now, it’s a tough situation. We’ve got to do the best we can for now.’’
Since the Knicks brilliantly made KP the fourth pick in the 2015 NBA draft, he has continued to mature as a player and as a person. He is committed to working on his body and his game over the summer, and hopes to work out with his friend and mentor, Dirk Nowitzki, who recently became just the sixth member of the NBA’s 30,000-point club.
Porzingis’ stats are about even with his rookie season. He’s averaging 18.1 points (up from 16) and 7.3 rebounds. But his shooting from the field is up from 43.3 to 44.5. He’s making 37.3-percent of his threes, up from 35.4.
Porzingis has not given up on this season.
Kristaps Porzingis explains why the Knicks struggled in the first quarter against the Nets and what type of effort the team needs to give the rest of the season.
He knows the chances of the Knicks making the playoffs are fading. But KP believes the additions of rookies Willy Hernangomez and Ron Baker and the solid consistency of Lee are learning to form a solid nucleus around Carmelo Anthony.
The lessons of this season will pay dividends going forward. If the playoffs don’t happen this year, KP believes a foundation is being laid for success in the future.
“It’s a tough year, everything,” Porzingis said. “There’s a quote about smooth seas. If the seas are smooth, you’re never going to become a great sailor. That’s how I always take it.
“I’m trying to get better, so one day we can make a step forward and win big sometime.”