Kristaps Porzingis seemed nervous before Friday’s game as he attempted to explain his brother’s threatening remarks about his future with the Knicks.
But Porzingis remained focused when he hit the court, getting the Knicks back on the winning track with his sixth game of 30 or more points in eight outings. With Porzingis pouring in 37 points to lead seven double-figure scorers, the Knicks routed the Suns, 120-107, at the Garden to improve to 4-4.
Again hearing “MVP’’ chants as he stepped to the free-throw line, Porzingis worked more magic on the inside. Only three of his 37 points came from beyond the 3-point arc. With 2:13 left, Porzingis received a standing ovation as he checked out for the night.
Porzingis inspired the loudest roars of the evening a few minutes earlier on a studly end-to-end sequence. The 7-foot-3 Latvian came from behind to block rookie phenom Josh Jackson’s layup try. On the ensuing fast break, Jarrett Jack fed Porzingis for a high-flying dunk that set off a Garden party.
Porzingis, who entered the night third in the NBA in scoring, shot 13 of 21 from the field and made 10 of his 13 free throws.
Starting center Enes Kanter scored 16 points with 13 rebounds, Tim Hardaway Jr. added 19 and Courtney Lee had 10 for the Knicks. Michael Beasley had his best game as Knick with 11 points, shooting 5 of 7 from the field and helping turn back the Suns’ lone rally in the third quarter. Reserve Doug McDermott added 12 points.
Kanter got off to a frenetic start — with eight points, seven rebounds and three assists in the opening 11 minutes. On one sequence, Kanter ripped down an offensive rebound off a Porzingis miss. He then fed Porzingis cutting down the lane for a massive dunk.
The Knicks were up 40-19 early in the second quarter. They led 65-50 at intermission, with Porzingis pouring in 20 first-half points. Not one of those came as a result of a 3-pointer as Porzingis, who was 1-for-2 from 3-point range, feasted in the mid-post and got to the rim for dunks.
The Knicks notched 15 assists in the first half, led by Jack’s five. One of the best deliveries came when Hardaway connected on a lead bounce pass for McDermott, who rumbled in for an emphatic right-handed reverse dunk.
The Suns were a one-man show, with guard Devin Booker racking up 34 points.
The Knicks moved to 4-1 since Jack became the starting point guard over Ramon Sessions, and became a steadying influence. Jack delivered just two points, but had eight assists and seven rebounds.
The Suns made it interesting briefly, cutting that 21-point deficit to six with 8:00 left in the third. Former Knick Tyson Chandler started doing damage to the Garden rims — and to Porzingis’ face. Fighting for a rebound, Chandler clocked Porzingis in the nose and the Latvian went down for 20 seconds as he felt around for blood. He came out, a bit woozy, and team trainers stuffed a tissue into his nostril.
The Knicks were soon back in control and led 92-76 heading into the fourth quarter. During their run back to a double-digit lead, Beasley got red-hot and Porzingis threw down a monster putback dunk after a Hardaway miss.