Courtney Lee, Kristaps Porzingis' return spark New York Knicks to victory

Joann Johnston
December 7, 2017

The 32-year-old big man is averaging 21.3 points, 8.7 rebounds and 1.7 steals in December after going for 17.8, 8.5 and 0.3 in the team's hard November, and he is fully invested in a turnaround for a squad that will get some key pieces back soon.

Lee scored 24 points, Porzingis had 18 after a slow start in his return to the lineup, and NY beat the Memphis Grizzlies 99-88 on Wednesday night.

"I was just doing treatment three times a day, " Porzingis said. The third-year big man was putting up All-NBA numbers early in the season, but had come back to earth more recently. "We came out with a different mentality and we had that run".

But it wasn't just the return of Porzingis that helped.

We're less than two months into the season, but the New York Knicks already are facing what feels like a pivotal stretch of the schedule: a few weeks without Tim Hardaway Jr.

Porzingis missed the last two games with an ankle injury, but was given a probable designation coming into Wednesday, so this was the expected move all along. "So it was a new feeling for me". And that gives guys confidence get up in their guys a little bit because if they do drive K.P.'s back there. "So I think it was his presence defensively that was excellent tonight".

NY kept a safe lead from there and when Memphis trimmed it to 88-82 with about five minutes remaining, Lee scored in the lane and Porzingis followed with a basket and a 3-pointer to push it back to 95-82. He spoke that night about wanting to return even that night, but doctors advised against it after he had noted that he felt his ankle touch the court, twisting on a 90 degree angle.

While his season scoring average has dipped from a 30-point clip to 25.8 points over the last few games, NY will need to unleash the unicorn at once in hopes to keep this team afloat and contending for a playoff spot.

Without Hardaway Porzingis said he will try not to change his approach, but does know that the team will rely on him for offensive production.

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"We stood around too much", Grizzlies interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff said.

Hornacek also said he didn't know the rehab or treatment plan that the team announced Hardaway had started.

Moving from forward back to shooting guard in Hardaway's absence, Lee took 17 shots, about seven more than his season average.

Enes Kanter added 12 points and 12 rebounds for the Knicks (12-12), who snapped a two-game losing streak that saw them fall below.500 for the first time since late October.

Their point guard, Mike Conley Jr., has been out since November 13 with a sore Achilles tendon and the season evaporated in his absence.

The Knicks continued it at the start of the second half, going on a 19-2 run to open a 68-51 lead. "So I need to warm this arm up and get ready".

"Without Tim in there we need him to go ahead and get 15, 16 shots up", Hornacek said.

"If (Hornacek) wants me to do that I'll just go out there and be aggressive".

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