Knicks beat Nets; Porzingis leaves with knee soreness
NEW YORK — By halftime, Courtney Lee was aware Kristaps Porzingis was feeling some left knee pain and New York Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek needed someone to step up.
Lee proved to be the player ready to get things done for the Knicks.
Lee compensated for Porzingis’ absence in most of the second half Thursday night by scoring 18 of his season-high 27 points as the Knicks blew an 18-point lead before pulling out a 111-104 victory over the Brooklyn Nets.
Porzingis tweaked the knee at some point in the first half but felt more pain when he made a pass to Lee for a 3-pointer late in the second quarter. He played the first 2:25 of the third quarter but when the Knicks called timeout, Porzingis returned to the locker room, and by the end of the period, the Knicks announced he had a sore left knee.
Porzingis will be evaluated further Friday when the Knicks are not scheduled to practice but an encouraging sign for the team and its fans was the sight of the 7-foot-3 forward conducting his postgame interview while standing up.
“I felt my knee, it just kind of buckled maybe a little bit and I felt a little pain there,” said Porzingis who scored 13 points before leaving. “So yeah, it’s more just being cautious, a little sharp pain there and that’s it.”
By the time Porzingis exited, the Knicks (15-13) were up 65-57 and Lee had 11 points on 5-of-8 shooting. He was up to 18 points through three, including a 3-pointer with 25.7 seconds left that gave the Knicks an 87-82 lead going into the fourth.
Lee finished three points shy of his career high set March 8, 2010, getting a 3-pointer and a reverse layup off a steal before hitting four three throws to ice New York’s third straight win.
While Porzingis was getting his knee examined, his teammates made the plays down the stretch to get their second road win of the season.
“I went out in the second half and was trying to be aggressive,” Lee said. “Coach was just like C. Lee, I need you to step up and I (said) got you, my man.”
Michael Beasley scored 11 of his 15 points after replacing Porzingis in the third, Enes Kanter added 13 and nine while rookie Frank Ntilikina contributed seven points and eight assists, including a 3-pointer that gave New York a 103-97 lead with 3:09 remaining.
The Nets never got closer than six and missed their best chance to inch closer a little over a minute later.
With 1:49 remaining, Caris LeVert airballed a contested 3-pointer, the Nets missed three putbacks and, after winning a jump ball, DeMarre Carroll misfired on an off-balance 20-footer with 1:28 remaining.
Two seconds later, Lance Thomas sealed it with a 3-pointer.
“Obviously, he is the leader of this team,” Ntilikina said. “We took a moment to adjust but we played well at the end of the game.”
Brooklyn fell to 0-2 against the Knicks despite getting career nights from Spencer Dinwiddie and Rondae Hollis-Jefferson.
Dinwiddie finished with 26 points, seven rebounds and seven assists, while Hollis-Jefferson totaled 24 points but the Nets shot 30 percent in the fourth quarter and missed 12 of 14 3-pointers in the fourth.
“I don’t think we got to the rim enough, especially when Porzingis went out,” Brooklyn coach Kenny Atkinson said after his team shot 28.6 percent from 3-point range. “We should have been at the rim more.”
Before Porzingis departed, the Knicks appeared headed for a second blowout win over their intracity rival. They held an 18-point lead with about three minutes remaining on a dunk by Kanter and settled for a 63-50 halftime lead.
“They were beating us up on the boards and just had another level of physicality we didn’t match,” Atkinson said.
NOTES: New York G Tim Hardaway (stress injury lower left leg) missed his seventh straight game but said he is feeling better. Hardaway will be re-evaluated in a few days and if he is showing progress, he could progress to running and jumping. Hardaway also said he did not know how the injury happened and is unsure of when he will return. ... Brooklyn G Allen Crabbe (left knee soreness) was available after being listed on the team’s injury report as questionable. He finished with four points on 1 of 8 shooting from the floor. ... Asked in his pregame press conference about stopping New York F Kristaps Porzingis, Nets coach Kenny Atkinson quipped: “If you’ve got any suggestions, I’d love to hear them.” ... Newly acquired F Jahlil Okafor and G Nik Stauskas had their second practice with the Nets on Wednesday but did not play.