Kristaps Porzingis returns; Joakim Noah activated, makes season debut

NEW YORK -- Kristaps Porzingis returned from a one-game absence and scored 22 points Monday night against the Portland Trail Blazers, but the Knicks dropped their third straight in a 103-91 loss.

With starting center Enes Kanter missing his third straight game with back spasms, the Knicks activated veteran Joakim Noah and gave him his first playing time since last February.

Noah checked in to a nice cheer in the second quarter and played three minutes, making his only shot attempt and grabbing a rebound. He missed the first 12 games of the season while serving the remainder of a suspension for violating the NBA's banned substance policy.

Before Monday, Noah, 32, had been either inactive or out with an illness since coming off his suspension.

The Knicks, who fell back to .500 at 10-10, welcomed the return of Porzingis, a 7-foot-3 forward who entered play Monday ranked fourth in the league in points per game (27.3) and first in blocks per game (2.3).

Porzingis went 6-of-16 from the floor, including 2-of-6 from 3-point range, and had 7 rebounds, 1 assist, 1 steal and 1 block.

Kyle O'Quinn got the start at center in place of Kanter on Monday and finished with 8 points and 11 rebounds.

It is unclear when Kanter will return, though Hornacek said he is optimistic Kanter will be back for Wednesday's home game against the Miami Heat. Kanter had hoped to be cleared to play against Portland, but Hornacek said he seemed to be inhibited during the team's shootaround on Monday.

"He was dying in practice trying to show us that he could play. You could see how stiff he was still running," Hornacek said. "We just can't take a chance at him making it worse and being out a while."

The Associated Press contributed to this report.