“I’ll be ready,” he said on Friday, as in ready to play in the Knicks-Celtics game on Christmas Day.
Porzingis' status for the Celtics game was up in the air after he suffered a right knee contusion in the second half of the Knicks’ win over Orlando on Thursday. The injury was the result of a knee-to-knee collision with the Magic’s Nikola Vucevic.
Porzingis still was a bit sore on Friday but pronounced himself fit to play on Sunday, when the Knicks host the Celtics (12 PM EST, ESPN).
“I feel pretty good,” Porzingis said after participating in the non-contact portions of Friday's practice. “At that moment (after the collision on Thursday) I couldn’t put any pressure on it. But as I kept walking, it got better and better. It was just a little inflammation in the tendon and the bone. It’s already getting better.”
In his second season, Porzingis has established himself as one of the Knicks’ most important players. He enters Sunday’s game averaging 19.9 points, 7.6 rebounds and 1.8 assists per contest. And he’s yet to miss a game.
He said on Friday that he hopes to play in all 82 games this season.
“I want to do it. I want to do it just to prove that I can do it, that my body can hold up,” he said. “I’m really paying a lot of attention to all the recovery and making sure I’m ready for every game. Hopefully I have a long career in the NBA. It’s going to be important for me to know how hard it is and being ready for every game, knowing my team needs me.”
Who does Porzingis want to prove his durability to?
“To myself and everybody from outside looking in at a skinny Euro,” he said. “Obviously it’s tough for my body but I want to go through it. I know I can. Hopefully I can stay healthy the rest of the season and keep going.”
Hornacek commends Anthony’s leadership: George Karl may have had issues with Carmelo Anthony, but Jeff Hornacek has none. The Knicks coach commended Anthony for doing everything the coaching staff asks of him and for handling criticism well. He also said Anthony has been a leader on this Knicks team.
“During the game certain things happen, where you end up saying, ‘Melo, you guard this guy, we need to stop that guy.’ He does it,” Hornacek said. “He’s a very smart player. He gets on the court, plays are happening. You can see him directing traffic out there, trying to help guys get to where they need to be. He’s in the right position on the weak side. Again, whatever George was talking about that’s past as far as I’m concerned.”
Karl, who was Anthony’s coach while with the Denver Nuggets, sharply criticizes Anthony in his upcoming book, calling him "a user of people" and saying he was disinterested in playing defense.
One interesting aspect of Karl’s critique: He expressed interest in coaching the Knicks to several people -- including one member of the organization -- a few years back, according to sources. Yes, Carmelo was the face of the Knicks at the time.
Also, count Hornacek’s comments as another example of the coach handling a potentially turbulent situation diplomatically. He did the same after Phil Jackson’s remarks on Anthony put him in the awkward spot of having to disagree with his boss or critique his star player.
Hornacek impressed by bench play: Hornacek has been effusive in the past few days about the play of his bench. The bench really lifted New York on Thursday for large stretches when the starters appeared stagnant. Hornacek has credited Brandon Jennings with becoming a captain of sorts on the second unit. He also says Kyle O’Quinn has impressed with his motor, fitness and ability to block shots; and Willy Hernangomez has started to knock down outside shots, including a 3-pointer on Thursday -- to the surprise of the coaching staff.
“I didn’t expect that in the beginning,” Hornacek said. “We were going, ‘Man, if he can be a guy that consistently makes the 15-, 17-footer, that’s going to be pretty good for us.’ And now, going out to the 3-point line, that changes the dynamic all together.”
Hornacek said that will keep teams from assuming that Hernangomez will automatically roll off screens, as he has done the majority of his time as a role player.
24 hours of Knicks: MSG Network will air 24 hours of Knicks games leading up to the Christmas Day game against the Celtics. MSG analyst Walt "Clyde" Frazier will host the marathon telecast, which features several Knicks games from earlier in the season.