Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Porzingis Can't Stop Mavericks

Newspaper article The Record (Bergen County, NJ)

Porzingis Can't Stop Mavericks

Article excerpt

NEW YORK -- Dirk Nowitzki is one of the more engaging personalities in the NBA, funny and charming, and welcoming, too.

He has heard the comparisons being made between himself and Knicks rookie Kristaps Porzingis. And while the humble 20-year-old from Latvia didn't want to intrude on the preparation of the 37- year-old Nowitzki, the Mavs veteran sought him out at center court as the game was about to begin Monday night.

And then like a spider who had lured the prey into his web, Nowitzki had the same smile after burying a jumper in the face of the rookie. Welcome to his world.

If that was all there was to this night, Porzingis more than held his own as he finished with a game-high 28 points. But Nowitzki finished with 25 and was aided by a roster of misfit players in a 104-97 win at Madison Square Garden. The loss, the Knicks' sixth in their last eight games, dropped them to 10-12 as they head out on a three-game Western trip.

"It was fun," Porzingis said. "At first he showed why he's Dirk Nowitzki. First half, I let him shoot open shots, and of course he made them. It was a lesson for me; somebody to learn from now. I've been learning from him. It was really fun to play against him."

It was fun at times for Nowitzki, too, in getting the win. But he came away convinced that the comparisons are fair.

"Yeah, it's more than fair," Nowitzki said. "He's probably way ahead of the curve. When I was 20, I was scared to death out there. ... He's almost averaging a double-double, so he's way better than I was at 20. So the comparisons probably unfair to me."

"[Nowitzki] loves these types of situations," Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said. "It's really great to see, [him] taking the challenge of a young guy like this. Porzingis is a special player. And the city of New York has Phil Jackson to thank for that one. There were others that didn't have the [guts] to pull the trigger on that one, and he's a great young player who's got a chance to be truly special."

The Knicks fell behind by as many as 23, drawing the ire of their home crowd for the first time this season. The Mavs got 20 points and seven assists from Nets castoff Deron Williams and 14 points and five assists from ex-Knick point guard Raymond Felton. …

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