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Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis laughs to keep from crying

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Knicks’ Kristaps Porzingis talks after practice about his sore hip.
Steve Popper/NorthJersey.com

GREENBURGH, N.Y. – In hard times, humor can help. So maybe it’s no surprise that Kristaps Porzingis chose to offer a lighthearted assessment of his health as the Knicks ready for what looks like a difficult season.

Porzingis, who has missed two preseason games and could only last one half of another, said that he is unlikely to play Friday in the exhibition finale. He offered this take on his rehabilitation of a sore hip.

“I’m actually surprised,” he said. “I’m like a lizard, I can recover so quickly.” 

The humor was good, although if Porzingis is actually such a quick healer might be up for debate. What isn’t up for debate though is how important he is to the Knicks chances of avoiding embarrassment this season.

With Porzingis playing just the first half Sunday and then sitting out Monday, the Knicks dropped one-sided decisions to Brooklyn and Houston, running their preseason record to 0-4. The franchise is hoping that Porzingis and rookie Frank Ntilikina can be the building blocks for the future, but Ntilikina has played even less, in action for just one preseason game after missing the entire summer league schedule.

“It is what it is,” Porzingis said. “Guys have little injuries, little things going on. That’s why we’re here trying to be as focused as we can learning the new things that we’re going through. It’s going to take a little bit of time to find a rhythm and then kind of connect with each other But it is what it is and we’re trying to learn as much as we can on the sideline.”

The learning curve for the Knicks hasn’t exactly been on display. Some of that may be attributed to the injuries and the staggered rotations. But that hardly silences the alarms sounded by the problems that the Knicks have had openly on display.

Knicks’ coach Jeff Hornacek has preached defense first and the front office has spoken repeatedly of putting a team that works hard and competes every night. But those characteristics are slow coming, despite Hornacek and the coaching staff being in place for a second straight season.

“(I’m) not concerned but we saw that there’s a lot that we need to work on,” Porzingis said. “We didn’t look good at all. There are a lot of things. We’ve been watching a lot of film and getting here early and watching a lot of film and correcting our mistakes and talking to each other. 

“And that’s what we can do right now and then go out on the court and do it the right way and it’s going to take a little bit of time but we all have the same goal and if we have our mind clear of what we want to do and if we want to stay together and do these things then sooner or later our defense is going to get better and our offense is going to get better.”

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“I think our guys know that it’s going to take us some time and we’re trying to improve every day,” Hornacek said. “Some of our things are getting better. We’re going to continue to work to get those stretches to be longer and longer, good stuff. The guys are willing to work. They’re listening to coaches, trying to do things that we’re asking. Familiarity with each other, that’s going to help. Now that we’re trying to get some groups together, consistently play together, so we’re working on it.”

NOTES: In addition to Porzingis and Ntilikina sitting out practice Joakim Noah was sent home (illness). Luke Kornet and Mindaugas Kuzminskas were back on the court for the first time in more than a week. Michael Beasley was also on the floor after x-rays revealed no damage to a bruised left elbow. … The Knicks signed point guard Trey Burke to a non-guaranteed contract with the expectation that he will join their G-League team.

Email: popper@northjersey.com



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