Porzingis makes tiebreaking three-pointer in strong Celtics debut to beat Knicks
NEW YORK (AP) — Kristaps Porzingis showed against his old team why his new one is an NBA Finals favorite.
Porzingis made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 1:29 left and scored 30 points in a strong Celtics debut, Jayson Tatum had 34 points and 11 rebounds, and Boston beat the New York Knicks 108-104 on Wednesday night in the season opener for each team.
Porzingis finished with eight rebounds and four blocked shots against his original NBA club, showing why the Celtics should be in contention for another banner after acquiring the 7-foot-3 center and Jrue Holiday during the offseason.
Porzingis set a record for highest-scoring Celtics debut.
“Honestly, it’s an awesome feeling to come back now being a Celtic and play here,” he said. “Even getting booed and getting all that, it’s still cool, I really like that and enjoyed that. But most importantly we won the game and very excited about what we have ahead of us.”
Holiday had a key basket after the Knicks opened a six-point lead with 3:40 left before Porzingis scored Boston's next nine points, including the 3-pointer that snapped a 101-all tie.
RJ Barrett and Immanuel Quickley each scored 24 points for the Knicks, who started slowly but opened the fourth quarter with a 13-2 run to take their first lead of the game. They couldn't hold on against one of the NBA's best teams.
“I thought the start of the game hurt us and then I thought the second, third and fourth we played better,” Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau said.
“It’s still choppy, we’re working through things, but we have to be ready and alert."
Porzingis was the No. 4 pick by the Knicks in 2015 and was an All-Star in 2017-18, but soured on the organization while recovering from a torn ACL. He was traded during the 2018-19 season.
Porzingis has developed into the player the Knicks had hoped, averaging a career-best 23.2 points last season for Washington.
“KP is hungry and excited to be here and knows how important he is to this team and what we need him to bring each and every night,” Tatum said.
Shortly after being loudly booed during pregame introductions, Porzingis had three 3-pointers and 15 points in the first quarter, which ended with Boston up 30-18. But he didn’t take a shot in nearly eight minutes of playing time in the second and the Knicks cut it to 51-46 at the half.
Tatum scored Boston’s first nine points of the second half to push the lead back into double digits. The Knicks would charge back to tie it midway through the third on Jalen Brunson’s 3-pointer, but the Celtics went back ahead 82-73 as Porzingis beat the buzzer with a follow shot.
With Porzingis starting, Al Horford came off the bench for the first time since doing so six times in 2019-20 in Philadelphia. He had only done it only four other times in more than 1,000 career games, for Atlanta as a rookie in 2007-08.
Horford finished with eight points and seven rebounds.
Brunson struggled to 15 points on 6-for-21 shooting. Julius Randle shot 5 for 22 en route to his 14 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists.
The Knicks missed 11 of their first 13 shots, making two dunks and nothing else.
Celtics: Host Miami on Friday.
Knicks: Visit Atlanta on Friday.
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