Carmelo Anthony, Kristaps Porzingis share spotlight against Nets

NEW YORK -- After every home game since Carmelo Anthony arrived in New York in 2011, there's been a large crowd of reporters waiting to talk to him near his locker.

Lately, a crowd just as large has been waiting to interview Kristaps Porzingis.

And Anthony doesn’t seem to mind sharing the spotlight.

“He can have all of it,” Anthony said with a smile late Friday night. “He can have it. I’ll give it to him.”

There may be a day in the not-so-distant future when all of the attention around the Knicks is focused on Porzingis. But on Friday, Anthony and Porzingis shared the big stage -- and shared it well. The rookie forward and the eight-time All Star combined for 47 points on 16-for-31 shooting in the Knicks’ 108-91 win over the Brooklyn Nets. They also had 17 rebounds between them.

“It’s been proven that when we kind of play the way that we played, shoot the ball that well, it’s tough [for opponents],” Anthony said. “It’s tough out there for teams to load up on me, load up on him.”

There were plenty of examples of Anthony and Porzingis playing off of one another on Friday:

One came on the Knicks’ first possession of the third quarter. Anthony had the ball with his back to the basket just inside the 3-point arc on the left wing. Porzingis sprinted down the left sideline and ran his man into a Jose Calderon screen. The screen left Porzingis with a free run to the rim, and Anthony found him along the baseline in stride. The timing and location of Anthony's pass allowed Porzingis to find the rim a split second before Brook Lopez came over to contest. The Latvian finished with a dunk over Lopez, and the fans at Madison Square Garden briefly lost their minds.

“That’s part of our growth as a ballclub,” Anthony said.

It's also indicative of a growing chemistry between Anthony and Porzingis. Just take a look at the early numbers: Anthony and Porzingis have spent 481 minutes together on the court -- the highest total of any two-man combination for the Knicks. New York has outscored opponents by 83 points during that time, according to NBA.com. Not bad.

Having Porzingis on the floor seems to benefit Anthony. The veteran has shot 45 percent when sharing the floor with Porzingis and 30 percent without him. Anthony also hit 42 percent of his 3-point attempts when sharing the floor with the rookie, compared to just 21 percent with Porzingis on the bench.

Porzingis wisely defers to Anthony when talking about the duo’s success together.

“Carmelo is a great shooter,” the rookie said. “When he gets hot, that draws so much attention, and then the other guys can get wide open for good shots.”

Anthony had one of his best shooting nights of the season on Friday. He hit nine of 18 shots for 28 points.

Porzingis finished with 19 points and grabbed 10 rebounds. It was the rookie's 10th double-double of the season -- only Andre Drummond (17), Zaza Pachulia (12) and Russell Westbrook (12) had more entering Friday’s contests.

Porzingis mentioned rebounding as an area in which he thinks he may be exceeding fans’ expectations thus far.

But that's not the only one.

“Maybe my passion for the game, as well,” Porzingis said. “They thought [of me as] a white European, skinny, who’s afraid. But that’s not who I am. I always try to stay aggressive. I always use my strengths and always work on my weaknesses to get better. That’s just who I am.”

He’s also one of the most popular athletes in New York right now. And on Friday night, Carmelo Anthony seemed to be just fine with that.