Knicks star F Kristaps Porzingis dropped a career-high 40 points in last night's comeback win over the Pacers, 108-101.
Porzingis has been on fire to start the season, and no matter what the defense does to hold him in check, he finds a way to score. He set his career high with 38 points against the Nuggets on Oct. 30. Not only does he have a new total after last night, but it came when the Knicks needed it most.
It was expected that the 22-year-old would be the Knicks' No. 1 option on offense this season, and right now, he is thriving in that position.
"I'm seeing a different type of defense almost every night. No matter who I'm playing against they're trying to be physical with me. I'm just trying to make the right decision, whether it's me being aggressive and attacking or passing the ball," Porzingis told ESPN's Ian Begley. "Just trying to play my game and staying calm mentally."
Porzingis now has at least 30 points in seven of nine games this season, and it has been crucial for the Knicks to win five of their last six. He also moved up the leaderboards as he sits second in points per game with 30.2 a night.
Head coach Jeff Hornacek admits getting Porzingis the ball is the main focus, and he loves how confident he has been in those situations.
"I think, again, the game has slowed [for him and] he's playing with confidence," Hornacek said. "He's willing to take those shots and make the plays. That's the step that he's taken in becoming the main focus."
The shots he took late in the game when the Pacers had a 19-point lead were the most important. He scored 15 straight points between third and fourth quarters to help tie up the ball game. He also had a night defensively, dishing out a season-high six blocks as well as securing eight rebounds.
He also had a night defensively, dishing out a season-high six blocks as well as securing eight rebounds.
Not in KP's 🏡 pic.twitter.com/G41pyUWYAV- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) November 6, 2017
It was a career performance for Porzingis. But teammate SG Courtney Lee sees more in the future from the forward.
"He's scratching the surface right now," Lee said about Porzingis. "He's still got a lot of room to improve and that's the scary thing about him."
It hasn't been easy for Porzingis to get to this point. Former Knicks president Phil Jackson publicly said he wasn't ready for the spotlight because of his age. But after Carmelo Anthony was traded to the Thunder, Porzingis knew it was time to step up and put all the naysayers to rest.
That is exactly what he has done to start the season.
"Of course. The challenge is never too big for me," Porzingis said. "I always accept the challenge and that's why I knew coming into the season [if] Melo was not going to be here, then I'm going to have to be that guy and that's why I was just [spending] 24 hours in the gym. I was preparing for this, preparing myself phsyically, and I'm just happy that I'm capable of playing at this level right now."