Kristaps Porzingis

The fourth overall pick in the 2015 NBA draft that got booed by the New York Knicks fans is doing well beyond their wildest imaginations, with his latest contribution to his fantastic rookie season in the form of a double double and a slew of blocks in a 107-102 win over the crumbling Houston Rockets.

Porzingis led the Knicks with 24 points, 14 rebounds and 7 (!!!) blocks, becoming the first 20-year old to post such a stat line since Shaquille O’Neal back in 1992-1993, his rookie year. The difference is people expected O’Neal to do these kinds of things right away after being the number one overall pick out of LSU. Porzingis? No one really knew what to expect. Not even his own teammates, as Carmelo Anthony explains.

It was concern from people who didn’t know. People didn’t know what to expect. Nobody had ever seen him before and people were all so upset that the Knicks drafted him. I know for a fact that that was one thing that jumped out to management and to Phil that was really impressive about his game on the defensive end. Everybody, of course, was fascinated by the shot-making, but we thought the activity on the defensive end was one thing that would really give him a chance to be good.

The Knicks have now won four in a row, while snapping an 11-game losing streak to the Rockets and a 10-game losing streak when playing in Houston. It seems like Porzingis is starting to step a little bit away from the comforts of quiet consistency that was part of his routine through the first 11 games of the season (11.4 points, 8.4 rebounds). He did have a 7-point game before the win in Houston, but he also had a 29-point game that came with 11 rebounds in the win against the Hornets. He has six double doubles through the first 14 games of his career. So much for a project that’s going to take years to develop.

Besides Porzingis, the Knicks got 16 points from Arron Afflalo (on 33.3% from the field), 14 points from Anthony, 12 from Langston Galloway and 11 by Jose Calderon. Maybe the most impressive thing not just about Porzingis but about the improved Knicks is Anthony. We won’t say he’s grown up and changed because he’s had bad-to-horrendous shooting days this season. However, he seems to know when to step back and let the Latvian rookie take over, taking just 10 shots in 25 minutes, realizing it’s not his show this time.

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