Kristaps Porzingis drinks the boos from the Knicks fans

Kristaps Porzingis was back at the Garden for the first time of the season on Friday night, returning with his new team, the Wizards, after a trade deal from Dallas.

Of course, the spurned New York fans were ready for him again, booing the former hometown All-Star before and during the Knicks. 100-97 win to knock Washington down to 11th in the Eastern Conference rankings.

“I’m enjoying it. I enjoy playing at MSG, whether it was at home before or away now. It’s always entertaining,” said Porzingis, who had a team-high 18 points and 11 rebounds in 29 minutes. “The biggest stage and again the boos. It is what it is.

“That’s in the past now. i love the city I miss this city very much. I miss a lot of people here. Yes it is what it is but I really enjoyed my time here and I only have good memories of this place.”

Porzingis even shook hands with Knicks owner James Dolan after the Wizards’ late comeback bid fell short from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter. He admitted he was disappointed not to have fired any of the shots on the Wizards’ last two possessions — misses from Kyle Kuzma and Kentavious Caldwell-Pope — that could have put the Wizards ahead or leveled the game.

Kristaps Porzingis reacts in the fourth quarter.
Kristaps Porzingis reacts in the fourth quarter.

“Of course. Like I said, that’s the biggest stage,” Porzingis said. “We developed a play, three down, and Pope got a decent look. And before that, Kuz looked decent and was hot. It was in the flow of the game.

“We put ourselves in a decent position to fight for the win but just fell short because of what happened before that.”

The often-injured former Knicks lottery pick missed the Mavericks’ only visit to New York in January after testing positive for COVID-19, and he was released as part of the deal that sent Spencer Dinwiddie and Davis Bertans to Dallas, sent back to the Eastern Conference.

The 7-foot-3 center hasn’t been able to pull off a full season alongside superstar Luka Doncic with the Mavs as he hasn’t played more than 57 games in any of his three NBA seasons since completing the full season Missed 2018-19 with a cruciate ligament rupture.

While Dinwiddie won a game for the Mavericks with a buzzer beater against the Nets earlier this week, Porzingis, 26, has averaged 19.5 points a game at 49.3 percent in six appearances since the trade.

Porzingis, who was drafted fourth overall by the Knicks in 2015, was named an All-Star in his third NBA season before suffering an ACL tear in February 2018. During his rehab, he expressed dissatisfaction with the Knicks’ direction and was essentially shipped off to Dallas in exchange for the Cap berth since issued and two first-round picks — almost a year after his injury.

Kristaps Porzingis defends Immanuel Quickley.
Kristaps Porzingis defends Immanuel Quickley.
Robert Sabo

And the gardeners certainly haven’t forgotten.

“I think it’s very natural, you just deal with it. This is the league. Guys trade and there’s always energy when a guy comes back,” said Wizards coach Wes Unseld Jr. “I think [Porzingis] handled that part well. I think he’s still working his way back into a rhythm. After missing the better part of a month and a half of games, he’s played a handful now, but he’s still getting his legs under himself.

“He’s not filming it as well as we’d like, but I think that’s coming. When he gets more comfortable with what we’re trying to do offensively, I think it’ll get easier too.” Kristaps Porzingis drinks the boos from the Knicks fans


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