The notion that Kristaps Porzingis does not have enough offensive help on the Knicks' roster was annihilated in an impressive second half by his teammates on Wednesday night.
And the hungry fans at Madison Square Garden showed their outrageous gratitude and elation at the efforts of the entire team at both ends of the field the night before Thanksgiving.
Porzingis scored just two free throws during an absurd 41-10 eruption in the third quarter by the Knicks, who beat another double-digit deficit and clung to an energetic 108-100 victory over Toronto on Thursday night at MSG .
Tim Hardaway Jr. pumped 12 of his 38 highest points of his career in the dominant third quarter, which featured a franchise record of 28 consecutive points by the Knicks at one point and a 32-3 sprint to open the session.
"That's great, it's great to be on the other side of the spectrum," said Hardaway. "It's just a fun game style when we're just having fun, buddy." Stopping, we're running, not caring about who scores the ball. Simply by doing what we can to involve the fans and excite them, to publicize them, we feed on their energy. "
Hardaway, the former first-round pick who returned to the Knicks from Atlanta as a $ 71 million free agency signing, now averages 18.4 points per game.
Porzingis finished with 22 points and 12 rebounds, and Courtney Lee added 15, including nine big ones early in the third, as the Knicks (10-7) resurfaced for the seventh time this season after losing at least 10 points.
"I want, how do you say, say good things about myself in the third quarter that was attracting so much attention that Tim was able to do all those things," joked Porzingis after the victory. "But I'm happy that he had a great game and was able to lead us."
The Raptors (11-6) had lost 23 points against Jeff Hornacek's squad on Friday night in Toronto, but the Knicks have now won nine of their last 11 at the Garden since a tight loss to Detroit in the Inaugural house party in October.
Before the match, Toronto coach Dwane Casey compared Enes Kanter to another famous offensive rebounder, Dennis Rodman, and referred to veteran point guard Jarrett Jack as a "tough guy and a natural leader".
Still, Porzingis should generally be the focal point to oppose the defenses, and Toronto had done a good job in the Latvian 7-foot-3 on Friday, keeping it at 13 points in 3 of 13 shots.
Porzingis scored 10 in the first half of Wednesday, but the Knicks still lost by 11 in the intermission, despite 19 points (including three of three) from Hardaway to two quarters.
Porzingis essentially served as a decoy and was barely added to his scoring total as Knick's other starters burst out of halftime sizzling, embarking on a frantic 28-point spike to take an 80-62 lead with less than three minutes to be played in the room.
Defensively, the Knicks also chased the Raptors on a 13-13 pitch from the court, until finally CJ Miles made a three with 2:25 remaining, and eight deliveries of total ball in the period.
Hornacek thought it was "probably" the best quarter of the season for the Knicks, while Porzingis improved that rating to "definitely."
"We just challenged the guys at the break," said Hornacek. "We challenged them in the break to get up and attack the boys, press, not do anything easy, and they responded in that third quarter, they were great."
The Knicks led their biggest lead, 89-69, to fourth, only to allow the Raptors a 12-0 run at the start of the fourth quarter to close the lead to 6 with 6:20 to go.
Porzingis buried the following five points – one and one conversion and a short baseline homer – to push the cushion back to 99-88 and Toronto never came closer than six after. Hardaway's late dunk gave him 38 points, surpbading his previous career record by two.
"He's playing very well, I love his intensity," Hornacek said of Hardaway, who added seven badists. "He's an intense person, sometimes maybe too much, but it's about winning." He wants to win. I think all of our guys in the locker room have that attitude that we're going to try to expose it. We may not win the game, but let's expose it. "
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