1. Trailing by 14 points in the fourth quarter, the Knicks were sparked by the return of Kristaps Porzingis and a spectacular one-handed putback jam that ignited the home team. New York rallied late on Wednesday night and even snatched the lead following a Derrick Rose layup with 48 seconds on the game clock. Unfortunately for the Knicks, John Wall connected on a fastbreak dunk followed by a New York turnover on the last possession as the Wizards escaped MSG with a 113-110 win. Carmelo Anthony caught fire in the second quarter by scoring a franchise-best 25 points on an incredible 10-of-12 shooting from the floor. He finished with a game-high 34 points and 10 boards.
2. Porzingis hit the floor on Thursday night for the first time in four games. The second-year standout has been dealing with a sore left Achilles, which led to head coach Jeff Hornacek bringing him off the bench against the Wizards. Porzingis registered 28 minutes, scored 15 points on 6-for-11 shooting from the floor to go along with five rebounds. The exciting aspect to his return was the jaw-dropping putback jam late in the fourth quarter that showed his true athletic ability and no signs of lingering issues with his left leg.
3. Joakim Noah’s MRI on Thursday confirmed a sprained left ankle. New York’s center was not available for the game against the Wizards but is hopeful to suit up tonight. With Noah sidelined, Hornacek started Kyle O’Quinn in his place next to Anthony and Mindaugas Kuzminskas in the frontcourt. Rose and Ron Baker started in the backcourt while Courtney Lee joined the second unit group.
4. Phoenix was in the midst of a brutal section of the schedule by facing the league’s elite teams over the last couple of weeks. The Suns squared off against the Cavaliers twice in two weeks and a contest against the Spurs last Saturday night. While Phoenix fell in both Cleveland games, it notched an impressive 108-105 win over the Spurs. The Suns could not carry the momentum from the San Antonio victory as they suffered two consecutive defeats heading into Saturday’s contest in New York. At 13-29, Phoenix sits in last place in the latest Western Conference standings.
5. In the first meeting between the two teams, the Suns captured a 113-111 overtime win in Phoenix on December 13. Porzingis poured in 34 points on 12-of-23 shooting from the field and 4-of-4 behind the arc in the defeat. O’Quinn posted 22 points and 14 boards off the bench in 28 minutes. On the flip side, Eric Bledsoe paced the Suns with a team-high 31 points, eight assists, and six boards.
by Jonah Ballow