In KP, Knicks Have Their Own Nowitzki

A 100-96 win by the New York Knicks on Sunday night in Dallas not only ended the team’s three-game losing streak, it showed the true potential of forward Kristaps Porzingis to emulate one of the best big men the game has ever seen.

This past summer, Porzingis worked out with Dirk Nowitzki, getting the chance to put in some time alongside the great German forward. Nowitzki, who is arguably the most successful European player to transition to the NBA, is a wonderful example for the young Porzingis to follow. Nowitzki is a player who, coincidentally, Porzingis is frequently compared to given their measurables, ability to shoot from distance and comfort handling the ball.

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And while Nowitzki, at 39, does not log the same amount of minutes as he once did, Porzingis, at 22, was clearly the better player on this night. In fact, he was arguably the best player on the court with a stat line that was eerily reminiscent of a Nowitzki game in his prime.

Porzingis started the win over the Mavericks shooting 5-for-7 from the floor. He finished with 29 points (though shot just 9-for-25) and added eight rebounds.

Al Trautwig, Alan Hahn, and Wally Szczerbiak analyze a rugby-esque Knicks-Mavericks game in Dallas, where the Knicks eventually came away with the win in a rather controversial and rough battle.

And while Porzingis has had no shortage of big games and big moments in his two years with Knicks, the win over the Mavericks showed a player who is beginning to tap his potential more fully. In fact, watching the two of them share the same court in Dallas, the Knicks may have found their own Nowitzki, a player who undoubtedly is in the Hall of Fame when he decides to step away from the game.

But after the game, Porzingis wanted to talk about the win and the moment. It was a battle, a physical game prone to streaks. Time and time again in the second half, Porzingis hit shots to help the Knicks hold onto their lead.

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“That would have been pretty heartbreaking if we didn’t win this game,” Porzingis said.

“Leading the whole game – we had opportunities to be up 15…double digits and keep it that way. But they just came back in the game again and again. They kept it close the whole time. At the end, they made some big plays, big shots and tied the game.

“We just wanted to stay calm, execute offensively. In the end, we got a stop defensively and were able to finish the game.”

Kristaps Porzingis catches up with Rebecca Haarlow after the Knicks-Mavs tilt, breaking down what led to the Knicks' much-needed victory on the road.

It was a signature game for the 7-foot-3, 240-pound Porzingis and one against a legend who has mentored him. At one point in the fourth quarter, Porzingis posted up, turned, pushed off with his elbow and hit a fadeaway from about 15 feet away.

It was a move right out of the 7-foot, 245-pound Nowitzki’s repertoire.

A big bucket for the Knicks, yes, but a bigger one for their young star. A moment in the game when the Knicks needed a basket against a Mavericks team that always seemed to come back with a run, they turned to their unicorn and he delivered.

A moment that reminded Knicks fans not just how special Porzingis can be someday but how truly special he is right here, right now. A player who may remind many of Nowitzki, but one who is forging his own legacy here with the Knicks.

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