BOOSTON — With just one game under his belt, Kristaps Porzingis has already left his mark on the Boston Celtics’ history. At Madison Square Garden, Boston defeated the Knicks 108-104, and the man dubbed the “Unicorn” nailed the largest shot of the game while setting a franchise record for the most points scored in a Celtics debut.
In his C’s debut, Porzingis scored thirty points, making eight of his fifteen field goals and five of his nine three-pointers. In the first quarter, he scored 15 points, giving Boston a 12-point advantage, capping an incredible start for him in Green.
With 3:38 remaining in the fourth quarter, the Knicks were up six points, but the Celtics gave up their double-digit lead in the second half. With ninety seconds remaining, the seven-foot-three Porzingis stood up once more and turned the tide, making critical free throws and a huge three-pointer to give Boston the lead.
After four free throws by Porzingis and a layup by Jrue Holiday, the game was deadlocked at 101 points. The big man then executed a flawless pick-and-pop with Jayson Tatum. Taking Tatum’s assist behind the arc, he coolly sank the game-winning three to give Boston the lead for good. A minute later, he made two more free throws to give his former side the win.
Despite being subjected to taunts and other offensive remarks from New York supporters during the game, Porzingis didn’t appear to mind. It only served to motivate him further, and he utilized it to destroy the 2015 squad that first selected him.
On Wednesday night, the big man accomplished a lot of things. Not only did Porzingis make threes, but he also demonstrated his entire offensive repertoire by rolling to the hoop. Four of his baskets came from under the hoop, including a terrific alley-oop for Derrick White’s first basket as a Celtics player early in the opening quarter. Also, he made ten trips to the charity stripe and successfully knocked down nine of their freebies.
Porzingis’ thirty points were more than Dominque Wilkins’ twenty-five points in his Celtics debut against the New York Knicks in 1994.
With Porzingis blocking four attempts and exerting his will around the rim, his defense was also a major contributing element for Boston. Porzingis frequently used his large size to change shots and make the Knicks uncomfortable, as the Knicks were only 11-for-34 in the paint during the game. On Wednesday night, the Knicks were just 3-for-15 when Porzingis disputed a shot.
Porzingis not only made history with the Celtics, but he also made NBA history by being the first player to debut with five threes and four blocks.
Porzingis prevented Boston from losing its season opener on Wednesday night; however, he won’t always have a game like this. He now holds a special place in Celtics history after making a great debut on both sides of the court.