“The sweetest thing for us, the best thing for us, will be to make the playoffs. This means nothing,” said Porzingis, whose Knicks have missed the postseason for four straight seasons. “If we can keep winning and I keep doing what I have to do, then the real reward will come.”
Porzingis had 28 points in the Knicks’ win over the Charlotte Hornets on Tuesday, including seven points in the final 2:32 to help New York seal another comeback victory.
It was the Knicks’ second straight victory in a game in which they had trailed by double-digits entering the fourth quarter. That’s the first time in the shot-clock era (starting in 1954-55) that the Knicks have had back-to-back games in this scenario, per the Elias Sports Bureau.
“We’re not giving up,” Knicks head coach Jeff Hornacek said after the contest. “For them to get these wins and see that if they just keep going and keep playing that they can pull these games out is great.”
New York has won six of its past seven games after an 0-3 start. Porzingis, a 7-foot-3 forward, has been a driving force. He has 300 points in the first 10 games of the season, the highest total in franchise history. Porzingis on Tuesday broke Bernard King’s record of 298 points, set in 1984-85.
“Having a guy like KP, who’s playing the best basketball in the NBA, makes our job a lot easier,” Doug McDermott said after scoring 20 points on 7 of 8 shooting to lead New York’s bench.
McDermott and Kyle O’Quinn combined to score 15 points in the first five minutes of the fourth quarter to cut Charlotte’s lead from 11 points to four. Porzingis’ seven points in the final 2:32 of the fourth helped seal New York’s comeback.
The 22-year-old Porzingis had a 3-pointer to break a 111-111 tie with 1:49 to play, and he then converted a layup as the shot clock expired to give the Knicks a 3-point cushion with 11 seconds remaining.
“That shot there was, gosh, just another sign of the greatness that’s becoming,” Hornacek said. “He didn’t get panicked. He knew exactly what was on the shot clock. He knew that he could get there and still get the layup off.
“That was a super smart play, rather than just try to shoot a fadeaway jump shot.”
Porzingis is the NBA’s second-leading scorer (30.0 points per game) — and the face of a team that’s defying preseason expectations. A sign of just how popular he has become in New York came earlier Tuesday, when a voter in New York City’s mayoral election reportedly voted for him as a write-in candidate.
“That’s pretty funny. I think I’m definitely ready for the job,” Porzingis told ESPN with a laugh. “People have a lot of imagination.”