Porzingis led a fourth-quarter charge and finished with 28 points, but the Dallas Mavericks held on for a 104-97 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday night.
Nowitzki scored 25 points after a strong start, then offered some encouragement to Porzingis after the Mavs walked off with a victory that seemed would be much easier than it ended up.
“The comparisons are more than fair,” Nowitzki said. “He’s way ahead of the curve. When I was 20 I was scared to death out there. He’s almost averaging a double-double out there. He’s better than I was in my 20s, so the comparison is probably unfair to him. He’s a complete package.”
Porzingis had 12 points in the fourth quarter of his first matchup with Nowitzki, the German great he has been compared to for his perimeter shooting skills by a 7-footer.
“It really doesn’t matter because we still lost,” he said, “but yeah, I was just hitting shots and trying to do the things to help the team win at the end.”
The Latvian rookie made consecutive 3-pointers as the Knicks cut what had been a 23-point deficit to 101-97 with 43 seconds left, then blocked Deron Williams‘ shot. But Carmelo Anthony was called for an offensive foul as the Knicks were trying to work to get the ball to Porzingis for another shot, and Nowitzki followed with a free throw before Williams made two more to close it out.
Williams had 20 points and seven assists.
A night after making a season-best 16 3-pointers and scoring 116 points in a victory at Washington, the Mavericks appeared to be rolling again in this one. Nowitzki scored 11 in the first quarter to show the Mavs had plenty left for the second night of their back-to-back.
“Dirk loves these types of situations, taking the challenge of a young guy like this, and Porzingis is a special player,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.
They had a 20-point lead early in the fourth quarter and fans were booing the Knicks, but Carlisle had to bring his starters back after the Knicks mounted a charge.
“It’s hard to keep a 20-point lead, especially on the road in the second half of a back-to-back,” Williams said. “With that being said, we’ve got to do a better job.”
Anthony had 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but shot 6 for 18 from the field and also picked up a technical foul in the fourth quarter.
The 7-foot-3 Porzingis grabbed just two rebounds but held his own offensively against Nowitzki, the top international scorer in NBA history. But Nowitzki was surrounded by much more firepower Monday even without a big night from Wesley Matthews, who scored 36 points on a franchise record-tying 10 3-pointers in Sunday’s victory.
Matthews was just 3 of 10 for 10 points.
Former Knicks guard Raymond Felton finished with 14 points in the Mavs’ fourth straight victory in the series.
Mavericks: Dallas has won 11 of the last 14 in New York and 23 of the last 28 meetings overall. Devin Harris sat out after injuring his ribs after colliding with teammate Justin Anderson in the first half of Sunday’s game.
Knicks: Porzingis was presented with his Eastern Conference rookie of the month award for October/November before the game. … It was the first of five straight games against Western Conference opponents. After a three-game trip to Utah, Sacramento and Portland, the Knicks return home to host Minnesota on Dec. 16. … Forward Kevin Seraphin turned 26.