Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis scored 31 points, brought down 12 rebounds and recorded a block of former teammate Carmelo Anthony in Thursday's season-opening 105-84 loss at Chesapeake Energy Arena.
The 22-year-old forward recorded his fourth 30-point game in his third professional season, shooting 11-of-25 from the floor and 2-of-6 from 3-point range.
"I always have the highest expectations for myself," Porzingis said, according to the New York Post's Fred Kerber. "I'm my own critic always in situations where I'm not playing well. There's nothing I will hear that will surprise me from the fans or whatever."
Porzingis, who told The Players' Tribune that being Defensive Player of the Year was one of his three individual goals for the 2017-18 season (along with being an All-Star and Most Improved Player), had a highlight block of Anthony, whom the Knicks traded to the Thunder in September, in the first quarter when Anthony went up for a layup down the right baseline.
"This is a big, big year for him," Anthony said, according to Kerber. "Last year, the year before, he had a couple pieces around [to] shelter him. Even when things weren't going good for him, I would always take the blame and take the pressure off of him. Now it's like, 'You there, you're the unicorn.' You've got to embrace it, understand what it's about, whether good or bad, and be ready."
While Anthony joined Russell Westbrook, who followed his MVP season with a triple-double on Thursday, and Paul George in Oklahoma City to contend in the Western Conference, Porzingis' teammates struggled. Ramon Sessions, Courtney Lee and Tim Hardaway Jr. combined for 20 points on 8-of-22 shooting with seven turnovers.
Porzingis told The Players' Tribune that the team's goal is to make the playoffs, though he understands "winning a championship is not a thing that you can do in one day.
"It's going to take time, and you need years to build a team that can be a contender," he said. "And, as I said, if I feel like we're moving in the right direction and moving towards that goal, then we're doing the right thing."