NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis believes the groin injury he suffered in the first quarter Saturday night is minor, and he doesn’t anticipate missing the New York Knicks' next preseason game.
Porzingis said he’ll likely sit out Sunday’s practice at Madison Square Garden, which is open to fans, as a precautionary measure. He expects to be available for Wednesday’s game against the Boston Celtics -- to whom the Knicks lost 119-107 on Saturday night.
“It kind of just got a little worse and worse throughout the game. And once I cooled down and came back in, I felt a little more,” Porzingis said.
He added that doctors are “being super-cautious” in holding him out of Sunday’s practice.
“They want to make sure that I'm 100 percent healthy and can get back on the court,” Porzingis said.
The second-year big man suffered a similar minor injury last season. His health is paramount for New York this season; he’s considered one of the Knicks’ best two-way players. On Saturday, he started the game off by hitting his first three shots, including two 3-pointers, on his way to nine points in 15 minutes.
Melo talks communication: Carmelo Anthony says he and Porzingis need to communicate well this season to coordinate things on offense now that players like Derrick Rose, Brandon Jennings and Joakim Noah are on the roster.
The veteran forward explains:
“I think this year it’s going to take a little bit more of communication from myself and Kristaps. Along with the other guys that’s out there on the court, the way that we’re trying to play, kind of the spots that he likes on the court, the reads that will be out there playing with a guy like Derrick and Brandon and Joakim, who is a helluva passer. So for me, I think it’s just more, kind of just communicating with him and really locking in and maybe watching more film with him. I think we really have got to try to create another type of connection out there on the court now, that’s with all the other guys we have.”
Anthony and Porzingis played well off of one another last season. But with Rose, who is a high-usage player, on the floor, some adjustments might be needed. It's something worth keeping an eye on during the season.
Hornacek likes Melo in pick-and-roll: Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said one intriguing aspect of Anthony’s game is as a pick-and-roll ball handler.
“When he’s actually handling the ball in the pick-and-rolls he’s very good, again, because he’s got the size, he’s got the strength,” Hornacek said. “If they try to double him, he makes passes out of there, so I’ve been impressed with that.”
Anthony was the ball handler in pick-and-roll situations on 13 percent of his plays last season, per NBA.com’s player tracking, significantly less than players such as Paul George and Chandler Parsons.
Hornacek's plan to use the pick-and-roll more often could boost the figure.
“I think now with the pace that we're trying to play, the way that we’re trying to play, implementing more of that style of play, it’s going to call for me to have the ball in my hand a little,” Anthony said. “I’m all for it."
Hernangomez coming: Willy Hernangomez is earning praise from teammates and potentially earning a spot in the regular-season rotation. Hornacek said Hernangomez is "probably" in the running for the Knicks’ backup center spot. Other candidates include veteran Kyle O'Quinn and rookie Marshall Plumlee.
“We’ve got to find him some minutes,” Hornacek said. “He deserves it.”
That was before Hernangomez scored 12 points and grabbed 12 rebounds (five offensive) in Saturday's loss. Hernangomez, a second-round pick in 2015, has impressed many in the Knicks’ locker room, including Anthony.
“I like the big baby. He’s a guy who can score, he can pass, he can play D. He can do it all,” Anthony said. “I try to not make comparisons, but I see a lot of Marc Gasol in him. That’s a great sign because Marc is a great player. So for him to have the skills knowing that he has at his age, it’s something special.”
Reserve forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas also had a big night on Saturday, scoring 18 points and grabbing 10 rebounds in 19 minutes.
Will KP play center? Hornacek said he'd like to use Porzingis at center this season but noted on Saturday that he didn't want to impact Noah's minutes.
"It’s a long season. If we start playing [Porzingis] at the five with Jo then we end up kind of shortening our rotation a little bit," Hornacek said. "I think early on we’ll have times when we do that. But we don’t want to go to that too soon, just because it’ll build their minutes up throughout the season. We obviously know we can go with [Porzingis] at the five, and when Derrick gets back there we can put a pretty small lineup out there with [Porzingis] at the five."
Porzingis said he likes the way he's shooting from the power forward spot at the moment but is open to playing some center. He has been paired with centers for most of his preseason minutes so far.