Kristaps Porzingis scored at least 30 points for the fifth time this season to lead the New York Knicks to their third straight win with a 116-110 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Monday at Madison Square Garden.
Porzingis recorded 38 points on 14-of-26 shooting, seven rebounds and three blocks for the Knicks, who hung on in the fourth quarter despite seeing their 22-point halftime lead evaporate in the third.
Kyle O'Quinn scored 15 points and brought down 12 rebounds, while Jarrett Jack had six points and 10 assists.
Nikola Jokic scored 28 points while Paul Millsap was limited to eight points on 2-of-13 shooting for the Nuggets, who had won back-to-back games after a 1-3 start.
KP 💦💦💦 pic.twitter.com/tZ1iOJM2so- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 31, 2017
Picking up where he left off... pic.twitter.com/7qprJ1WTJj- NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) October 30, 2017
Porzingis scored 20 points in the first half, including a 15-foot jumper with 9 seconds left that made it 65-43 at the break. But in the third quarter, the Nuggets went on a 27-2 run to take a 73-71 lead.
The Knicks took back the lead later in the quarter and led by two with 3:10 left, but Jack made a 21-foot jumper and Courtney Lee hit two free throws to push the lead back to six.
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This game was so crazy that it felt like two different games. The Knicks played remarkably well in the first half. They were flawless on defense, which led to easy buckets on offense. Jack had nine assists in the first half. O'Quinn was having a block party. At halftime, this game looked over with the Knicks up 22. Then the third quarter came.
The Nuggets went on a monster third quarter run and took the lead at one point. They outscored the Knicks 38-19 in the third after outscoring the Nets 40-21 in the third on Sunday night in Brooklyn. The Knicks turned the ball over 12 times in the quarter. They would turn it around though, thanks to Porzingis, the early-season MVP candidate who scored a career-high 38 points. (Yes it's too early to say this, but his stat line has been absurd.) What gave the Knicks the spark they needed in the fourth quarter was Tim Hardaway Jr. finally coming to life. He dropped 11 points in a three-minute span to give the Knicks what they needed to put the game over the edge. Porzingis and O'Quinn would do the rest. O'Quinn was sensational with 15 points, 12 boards and five blocks. He led the Knicks with a plus-minus differential of plus-14.
The Knicks have completely turned this early season around. Coming into Friday night, they were 0-3 and Jeff Hornacek was on the hot seat. They have now won three straight games, two of them coming against highly-talented teams. They have showed life on defense and have moved the ball on offense where everyone is contributing. Jack has been a big reason for that, who is playing on a contract that isn't fully guaranteed. There's no doubt that he's going to stay, and the Knicks will have a decision to make whether to cut Mindaugus Kuzminskas, Ramon Sessions or Michael Beasley. It seems Sessions or Kuzminskas would be the one to go once Joakim Noah returns from his suspension. It's fun to watch this team when the effort is there and everyone is getting involved. What a weird season so far, and it's not even November.
The Knicks host the Houston Rockets at Madison Square Garden on Wednesday at 8 p.m.