For the second consecutive year, Kristaps Porzingis shined in the first event of the NBA’s midseason showcase. Porzingis scored 30 in last year’s Rising Stars Challenge in Toronto and followed up that performance with a 24-point night in New Orleans on Friday evening.
“I know what to expect,” Porzingis stated. “I know what type of game it’s going to be, but this year I wanted to win. Last year we lost as the World Team. This year we got the win.”
Powered by Porzingis, Buddy Hield (28 points), and Jamal Murray’s MVP (36 points) outing, the World team exacted revenge from last year’s defeat in the 150-134 victory. Along with the 24 points on 68 percent shooting from the floor, Porzingis also snagged 10 boards in just 23 minutes.
“I’m glad that we got the win, first of all. It was a lot of fun. We had a lot of fun. I felt like we could’ve done a better job. We turned the ball over a little too much. I kind of take the game seriously. But it was fun. Guys had some nice plays for the fans and the crowd was entertained so we’re happy,” Porzingis smiled.
Porzingis’ good friend and teammate, Willy Hernangomez joined the festivities on Friday night as part of his first All-Star experience. The rookie recorded six rebounds for the victorious World squad.
“I’m really happy for him,” Porzingis added. “I felt like he had to be here. He deserved to be here from the beginning. I’m happy that they called him after Joel Embiid was out. It was a nice moment for us to enjoy this together. We’ve been through a lot together. And now we’re here and this was a nice event for us.”
Hernangomez will head out from the Big Easy tomorrow to enjoy some vacation time before the Knicks report back to practice next Tuesday. Porzingis will take part in the Taco Bell Skills Challenge on Saturday night in New Orleans.
by Jonah Ballow