Carmelo Anthony was back at the Garden on Saturday night, but his replacement as the face and focal point of the Knicks wasn’t able to play against him.
Kristaps Porzingis was out of the lineup against Carmelo and the Oklahoma City Thunder, one game after pulling himself from Thursday’s win over the Nets with a sore left knee.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said Porzingis had taken part in the team’s morning shoot-around, but after conferring with the medical staff, the 7-foot-3 power forward was announced as inactive about an hour before tipoff.
“He’ll probably talk to those guys about how well his movements are,” Hornacek had said before the official determination was made. “Sometimes as a player you’re sore, certain movements, doctors will say, “Oh that’s nothing.’ Other movements maybe they say ‘That could be something.’ So I think he just wants to make sure. He could tell you best. The stuff he was doing out on the court, if he felt things moving certain directions that’s probably what the doctors are asking him.”
Porzingis, who didn’t address the media before Saturday’s game, is the Knicks’ leading scorer at 25.5 points per game in his third NBA season – and first since Anthony was dealt to the Thunder just before the start of training camp.
Porzingis admitted he initially felt his knee “buckle a little bit” in the second quarter of Thursday’s win in Brooklyn; he played three minutes after intermission before leaving the game. Following a medical reevaluation on Friday, the team officially had listed Porzingis as “day-to-day” and “questionable” for Anthony’s return.
“I should have some pain (if it was serious), some bad pain, but I don’t,” Porzingis said Thursday night. “I’m standing. It’s just them being cautious.”
This marked the fifth game Porzingis has missed already this season while dealing with various minor injuries.
BEST IN THE WEST
Oklahoma City arrived with a middling 14-14 mark, still adjusting to adding All-Stars Anthony and Paul George to reigning league MVP Russell Westbrook. But former OKC center Enes Kanter, who came over in the Anthony deal, still likes the Thunder to make a big move in the Western Conference.
“They obviously have three of the best players in the league. They’ve had some tough games, but the most important thing is they stay together…I believe that they’re still the best team in the West,” Kanter said. “I believe it, yeah, I think in the end you will guys will see it in the playoffs that they’re going to step up. I still believe they are the best team in the West…They just need some time to try to get used to each other and stuff, but once they get the chemistry together, I think they’re gonna beat Houston, Golden State, whoever, in the West.”
Opposing center Stephen Adams was sidelined for Oklahoma City with a concussion suffered in Friday’s triple-OT win in Philadelphia. Joakim Noah was in uniform for the Knicks with Porzingis unavailable.