Given the way Kristaps Porzingis’ foot contorted in a cringe-worthy position – and given the way his ankle ligaments tested the limits of elasticity – there can only be one response from the Knicks following a sprained-ankle diagnosis:
Sigh of relief.
The injury looked awful. Just 150 seconds after tipoff, Porzingis was chasing a loose ball near the baseline when Miami guard Justise Winslow stepped on the Latvian’s planted foot. Porzingis’ leg was outstretched so he couldn’t roll his 7-3 body with the fall, making the angle of his ankle appear all the more unnatural.
In that moment – as the Knicks season flashed before the eyes of thousands at the Garden – Porzingis might’ve been the only one who knew something wasn’t seriously wrong.
“I knew it wasn’t broken,” he said. “I’ve had fractures and things like that before. I know what that feels like. I knew bones were fine. It was just like a tendon situation. A sprained ankle. I think it looked worse than it felt.”
Still, Porzingis understands he’s not totally out of the water yet. X-rays were negative but the 22-year-old said he’ll wait until Thursday to decide if an MRI is necessary for ligament damage. Porzingis actually tried to play again Wednesday before he was overruled by doctors.
“They call me the lizard because I recover so quickly from things,” he said.
Porzingis has taken great care to prevent injuries this season, resting more often and maintaining a protein-packed diet to keep his weight up. But as Wednesday proved — yet again — injuries are unpredictable. Especially the acute ones.
In his two-plus years with the Knicks, Porzingis has been hampered by problems with his Achilles, shoulder, back and knee. None of those injuries were as obvious — or looked as painful — as the ankle turning over against Miami. Teammate Jarrett Jack saw the aftermath and immediately summoned the Knicks coaches. Porzingis then limped off the court with his arms draped around two staff members. He wasn’t surprised by the grotesqueness of the replay “I knew it was bad because I felt my ankle touching the floor,” Porzingis said. “But I didn’t overreact to that.”
As the Garden held its breath, the Knicks rallied to pummel the Heat, 115-86, snapping a three-game losing streak. Porzingis contributed four points before Winslow stepped on his foot, but the hero was Enes Kanter and his 22 points with 14 rebounds.
Much of this New York season is about progressing Porzingis into a superstar worthy of carrying a franchise. That also requires his good health. For a 7-3 power forward who often plays above the rim, lower-body injuries are an ever-present danger.
It sounds like he dodged a bullet Wednesday.
“Hopefully it’s nothing too big and I’m going to get treatment and hopefully the lizard will be ready for Sunday (against the Magic),” he said.