Kristaps Porzingis turned the crowd to his favor

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We all remember how the fans reacted when the New York Knicks selected Kristaps Porzingis in the summer’s NBA draft, let’s just say that they voiced their displeasure, perhaps they were still imprinted with the disastrous 2013 trade for Andrea Bargnani.

On Saturday in Las Vegas, at the Thomas and Mack Center, when Kristaps wore the Knicks jersey for the very first time, the crowd seemed to be pleased rewarding him with praise and cheering him when the young athlete provided them with 12 points, 3 rebounds and 2 blocked shots in 18 minutes of action.

“Finally they saw me play out there, so hopefully now some of those booing fans are now cheering for me out there,” Porzingis said.

Coach Dereck Fisher was mostly impressed with his effort on the defense end of the floor.

“I think defensively he has the potential to be really special,” Fisher said. “There were some things that he recognized and made adjustments on and supported his teammates in switching out on smaller players, using his length to protect the basket. I thought on the defensive end he impacted the game in a major way.”

Porzingis gave the public a clear message of not being the soft player they thought he would be, looking to create contact against bulkier guys.

“He’s aggressive,” Fisher said. “He doesn’t look overpowering, but he plays a strong game. He’s not afraid to go in there and mix it up.”

“I tried to play aggressive,” Porzingis said. “I knew the guys were going to be physical. I tried to play the same way. I got to the free throw line, missed one free throw — gotta make them all, but I think I was pretty aggressive.

“As you can see out there, I’m fighting with the guys although they’re 15 pounds heavier than me, even more. I try to go out there and play as hard as I can, and I don’t have a problem with contact.”

For his growing bank of fans, 18 minutes of play was not enough, but Porzingis had been dealing with a hip issue and his team are simply acting with caution.

“Coach told me I wasn’t going to play a lot,” Porzingis said. “He told me 18 minutes. I knew I wasn’t going to play a whole lot, just because they wouldn’t want me to go 30 minutes or whatever. It’s step by step, and I just wanted to be me when I go out there, play hard, and play 100 percent.”

It was great to hear the fans giving positive feedback every time Porzingis achieved good results, all the cheers echoing throughout the arena was simply absolutely fantastic.

“That’s the opposite of what I heard on draft night,” Porzingis said. “So it was nice to hear some cheers out there.”

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