The NBA apparently believes in unicorns, too.
Kristaps Porzingis was named on Monday as the Eastern Conference player of the week after averaging 33.5 points over his previous four games, including a career-high 40 in Sunday’s comeback win over Indiana.
Jeff Hornacek certainly didn’t need any Election Day exit polls to tell him that the award was well-deserved.
“Yeah, he should’ve got it. He’s been great,” Hornacek said before Tuesday’s home game against Charlotte. “He’s carried us. I think he’s shown that he can handle that. Guys trust him. They look for him and when he’s open they’re learning how to get it to him at the right spots.
“It’s been impressive offensively what he’s done, how calm he’s gone about it…But I think his defense also has been a big factor in us winning these games.”
Porzingis, whose 30.2 points per game through nine appearances ranked second behind Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo in the NBA scoring race, has regularly been hearing MVP chants from the home crowds at MSG.
“Well, as long as it keeps his confidence up, that’s fine,” Hornacek added. “I think he’s just not forcing anything. You look at the game and sometimes you don’t realize…we’re sitting on the bench and all of a sudden you look up and he’s got 28, 29 points.
“You’re like ‘Holy Cow’ that got there quickly. So the big thing with him is not forcing things. He’s taking shots within the flow…I think it’s just the way he’s playing within the team and not trying to force things, that’s been impressive.”
Despite his recently improved play, the Nike billboard of rookie point guard Frank Ntilikina on a skyscraper across from the Garden has been removed. It supposedly only was scheduled to be on the side of that building for a predetermined time.
“I didn’t see that, but I don’t think about it,” Ntilikina said. “It was very cool to have that kind of a billboard here. But the main thing is on the court, so that’s all I’m thinking about.”
Joakim Noah is eligible to return from his 20-game PED suspension (carried over from last spring) on Monday against Cleveland.
With 16 players under contract, the Knicks will have to make a roster move to facilitate the veteran big man’s activation.
Second-year forward Mindaugas Kuzminskas, inactive Tuesday for a 10th straight game, reportedly has been shopped around the league by the Knicks. Veteran point guard Ramon Sessions, who had totaled just six minutes over the previous six games with five DNPs, also could be a candidate to be released from his veteran-minimum contract.
Asked what Noah’s role will be once he returns, Hornacek replied: “We still have another week before that. When he comes in we’ve got to figure out what his role is going to be with all of the bigs that we have. That’s something Jo and I will have to talk about and figure out. The way we’ve been playing I like the Enes (Kanter) and Kyle (O’Quinn) rotation right now. We’ll have to see.”