It’s a rivalry that Minnesota coach Sam Mitchell said will be around for the next 12 years, and although the Timberwolves’ No.1 pick, Karl-Anthony Towns, won the statistical battle, Kristaps Porzingis’ Knicks got the win, 107-102.
“I think KG told them [Towns and Gorgui Dieng] whenever we’re playing against a young center, he always reminds Karl and G that they’re going to see this guy for the next 12 years, so get used to it,” Mitchell said.
Porzingis finished with 11 points, six rebounds and seven blocks at home, but struggled in the second half and shot 4-of-14 overall. Towns ended his night with 25 points and 10 rebounds after a slow start. After the game the duo shared a moment on-court in which they both encouraged each other to keep working hard.
“He just wished me good luck and [said] to keep working and I said the same thing,” Porzingis said.
Porzingis was selected by Phil Jackson with the fourth overall pick in last summer’s draft, but after a quarter of the NBA season completed, many pundits feel that the Latvian has the most upside of anyone in the draft, and is leading the Rookie of the Year race thus far.
“I told you before the game started, he’s talented, and he proved it again,” Towns said. “He’s very talented. He’s a versatile player. Can’t wait to be playing against him for the next 20 years-plus.”
When told about Towns’ comments, Porzingis added: “That would be amazing, of course. We just came in the league, it’s our first year and that’s a dream for both of us so that’s what we want to achieve.”
Porzingis displayed some of the versatility that fans are drooling over when he stepped in and played a little center with Robin Lopez limited to just 18 minutes. Two of his seven blocks came on Towns’ shots, and after the game Derek Fisher spoke about playing his rookie at the center position.
“There are nights where it works well for us,” Fisher said. “Kris’ shot-blocking abilities and his ability to rebound allows us to do it, because he can play bigger than his frame. I think we are still searching offensively (for how we can take advantage of him at the center spot.”
Feature image credit: Adam Hunger-USA TODAY Sports