It could be hard to watch the Knicks again this season. It could be even harder to watch the Mavericks.
Kristaps Porzingis took the floor Wednesday night for the first time since tearing his ACL at Madison Square Garden 20 months ago, and looked strikingly similar to the star originally expected to spend the next decade with the Knicks. Playing 19 minutes in Dallas’ preseason game at Detroit, Porzingis put up 18 points and seven rebounds, while posting a team-high plus-13 in the 124-117 loss.
“I was out for a while, so to be back out there on the floor, it felt good,” Porzingis, alluding to his lengthy absence from competitive basketball, told the Dallas Morning News.
“It felt pretty natural, you know? I missed a lot of open looks, but I’m happy about me being out there on the floor again.”
Following his stunning trade from the Knicks to Dallas on Jan. 31, Porzingis started practicing with the Mavericks last season, but the 24-year-old waited until this week to partake in game action. The 7-foot-3 forward, who signed a five-year, $158 million deal with the Mavericks this summer, has said he has no physical limitations stemming from the injury, and showed none while recording a steal, rebound and turnaround jumper in the first minute of play Wednesday night.
“I liked the way (Porzingis) played,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. “Moved well. Obviously he’s very excited to be back out there. It was a great start for him, hitting three or four shots in a row.”
Porzingis drilled a pair of 3-pointers on back-to-back possessions in the first quarter, and hit three of his first four shots, but finished 7-of-18 from the floor in his long-awaited return. After the game, Porzingis said his career-altering injury never crossed his mind.
“I felt different in other ways on the court,” Porzingis said. “I felt a little bit stronger. I wasn’t trying to do too much. I was pacing myself and I felt good. I felt comfortable out there. I just wanted to make more shots.”
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