Ntilikina & Ball Are Two of a Kind

They met Thursday night at The Garden, two storied franchises that are as different as the ominous green of the Atlantic Ocean and the sapphire blue of the Pacific.

The Knicks beat the Los Angeles Lakers, 113-109 in OT, in a game that matched two polar opposite rookie point guards and two fan bases pining for their team’s next run of success.

The Lakers (10-16) haven’t had a winning record since 2013 and haven’t won the Western Conference crown since 2010.

They’ve been living off their past; off the names Wilt Chamberlain, Jerry West, Magic Johnson and Kobe Bryant.

Now, they pin their hopes on Lonzo Ball, who is best known for quotes from his father rather than his play thus far this season. LaVar Ball was in the sellout crowd, a one-man cheerleader with a bullhorn of a voice, rooting for his son.

The Lakers, reportedly, have asked LaVar to tone it down.

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The Knicks (14-13) also haven’t had a winning season since 2013 and haven’t won the Eastern Conference title since 1995. They, too, have a storied past.

Clyde Frazier, Patrick Ewing, Carmelo Anthony, Bernard King and Willis Reed, who came hobbling out of the old Garden tunnel in 1970 to lead the Knicks to a Game 7 NBA Championship win over the Lakers and create one of the most iconic memories in New York sports.That’s what Knicks’ fans cling to.

Kristaps Porzingis is a good bet to join that list. He was sensational, scoring 37 points with 5-of-8 shooting on 3s, 11 rebounds and 5 blocked shots.

The Knicks also are looking to a rookie point guard, Frank Ntilikina, to develop into an elite player. They hope he turns it up as the season progresses.

Therein lies the latest iteration of the differences between the basketball franchises in LA and NY.

They are as different as Ball and Ntilikina.

Ball is his own brand, or rather, his father’s brand. Big Baller Brand opened a pop-up shop on Sunday on West 14th street. Lonzo came to sign autographs.

“I didn’t count them but there were a lot of people,’’ Ball told reporters. “I got out of the car and said, ‘Wow, it’s cold out here.’ I wouldn’t stand out there in that cold, but they definitely did it.

“I mean, everybody was calling my dad a legend. That was about the funniest. Just yelling out the brand saying ‘LaVar is my hero.’”

Ntilikina doesn’t have a brand, or a pop-up shop, or a pugnacious father who has Twitter-feuded with the President of the United States.

There are purple and gold t-shirts that say Lonzo across the front in place of Lakers. It took Knicks’ fans weeks to learn how to pronounce Ntilikina (ni-LEE-kin-a).

The Lakers have played 26 games. Ball has started 26 games.

The Knicks (13-5 in the World’s Most Famous Arena) have played 27 games. Ntilikina has played in 24. He’s started none of them.

Ironically, he likes the nickname “French Prince” because Will Smith is his favorite actor. The soft-spoken Ntilikina would probably be as uncomfortable living in Bel Air as Ball was when he felt the brisk winter chill on Sunday morning.

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Ball, 20, was born and raised in Anaheim and has been a Southern California basketball star/celebrity since he could dribble. LaVar probably would say Lonzo is more famous than Smith.

Ntilikina, 19, was born in Belgium and moved to France when he was three. Most Knicks’ fans had never seen the 6-foot-5, 190-pound point guard with the seven-foot wingspan play when the Knicks made him the 8th pick in the NBA Draft.

He has shown moments of unique talent but often has struggled to learn the NBA game, a new country and a city that never sleeps.

Ntilikina never was expected to be the starter from Day One. The Knicks took the raw talent knowing he would need to develop. There was no burden of Ntilikina being the franchise’s salvation this season.

“This is all experience for him,” coach Jeff Hornacek told reporters. “He’s 19 years old — second-youngest guy in the league. He’s not afraid of the challenge of any of these guys. That’s how you learn, playing against these players and picking up tricks.”

Ball was the second player picked in the draft. With that came the pressure of being anointed the savior, the resurrector of ‘Showtime,’ the guy Jack Nicholson would sit courtside and smile at with the most deviously fun smile in the history of Hollywood.

Ball showed flashes of being the next NBA’s nightly triple-double threat. He finished with 17 points, 8 rebounds and 6 assists in 40 minutes.

Playing at The Garden for the first time in his career, he owned the third quarter but wasn’t much of a factor in the fourth and overtime. His ZO2 shoe starts at $495.

“It was a lot of fun,’’ Ball told reporters. “I heard the crowd the whole game. It was crazy,” he said. “Would have been nice if we got the win, but it was very eventful.”

[Read More From Lenn Robbins]

Ntilikina wasn’t as sensational as Ball, but he was steady down the stretch, finishing with 13 points with 3-of-4 shooting on 3s, 5 rebounds and 5 assists in 29 minutes. He has a Nike sneaker deal that he signed while playing in Europe.

Both rookie point guards were on the court in the fourth quarter and overtime, an endorsement by their coaches and franchises that they are the future of that position.

Ball made more highlight plays. Ntilikina made more winning plays.

“A lot of effort, big plays, just keeping our poise on the court, not being stressed and not being overrun by the moment,” Ntilikina told reporters.

“So, I mean, that was great and for a young team like this to play like that, it’s a huge step in our process.”

The Knicks play against the Lakers again in Los Angeles on Jan. 21. Once again it will be East Coast against West Coast; Atlantic battling the Pacific; Hollywood taking on Broadway.

And yes, it will be Ball vs. Ntilikina. This might be exactly what both franchises have been yearning for.

[Watch Knicks-Nets Thursday on MSG & Download Free on MSG GO]

The Garden of Dreams Foundation helps kids facing obstacles in the Tri-State area, including Rangers fan Taylor Ryan who is battling a rare blood disorder called Langerhans cell histiocytosis.