NBA.com — In the midst of Kristaps Porzingis enjoying his best game as a pro, he suffered a neck injury in the contest against the Spurs on Monday night. While Porzingis was on the ground after a scramble, Carmelo Anthony inadvertently fell on the back of his neck. Porzingis was able to walk off the floor on his own but went straight to the locker room. The Knicks medical staff ruled out a concussion and X-rays were negative. Porzingis was diagnosed with a soft tissue injury. At Tuesday’s practice, the rookie was optimistic about returning to the floor. “Feeling way better today. I woke up in the morning and I was actually kind of surprised that my neck was not that stiff anymore, so feeling better today,” Porzingis confirmed. He added, “For now, I think I’m good for tomorrow. If I get even better tomorrow, I’ll be able to play for sure but tomorrow morning I’ll be reevaluated by the doctors again and they will give me the final answer. I trust them and I told them I feel pretty good today and probably tomorrow I’ll be even better.”
14 and 13 against the Duncan-Aldridge-Leonard frontline? Three steals? Two blocks? One cold-blooded homicide? And this is all just in his fourth game in just 24 minutes?
I don’t know how you can put a ceiling on this guy right now. Yes he needs to bulk up. And yes he needs to avoid foul trouble. But what else could you possibly criticize about him at this point? He attacks the boards hard, challenges people at the rim, uses his length defensively, dives for loose balls, gets out in transition, moves the ball when necessary, and rarely takes a bad shot. And every mistake he’s made over the first few games – with the exception of getting into foul trouble – he’s worked to correct the following game. But more than anything, he’s completely unafraid. He’s calm and collected, while also competitive as hell. He took it right at LaMarcus that whole game, and played as well as someone in their fourth career NBA game could ever be expected to play against an All-NBA Power Forward.
I know that I’ve been outrageously optimistic about KP so far, and that my sarcasm and exaggeration might not make me the most qualified person to realistically discuss KP. But even the most pessimistic Knicks fan can’t deny how much last night meant. For the first time in god knows how long, this team 1) has real hope for the future, 2) exudes a sense of camaraderie, and 3) plays really fucking hard together.
I have no idea how long it will take to build a championship contender, and if that’s actually even possible with Derek Fisher as the coach. We’re obviously years away from that, even if we are a playoff team this year. But I know that after what we’ve seen from Kristaps, Jerian, and the rest of these guys through four games, the process is significantly further along than you’d have guessed last week.
P.S. Coming for that ass Bron #PrayForCleveland