Marcus Morris made a tiebreaking 3-pointer with 13.2 seconds remaining to delight a Madison Square Garden crowd that booed Kristaps Porzingis all night, and the Knicks beat the Dallas Mavericks, 106-103, on Thursday.
Morris also knocked away a Mavericks inbounds pass with under a second left, helping the Knicks to just their third victory in 12 games this season.
Porzingis, who was traded from the Knicks to the Mavericks in January, finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds in his first game at Madison Square Garden as a visitor. His teammate Luka Doncic had 33 points, 11 assists and 10 rebounds for his fifth triple-double of the season.
Porzingis, whom the Knicks took with the No. 4 pick in the 2015 draft, developed into a fan favorite and then an All-Star in New York. But he soured on the Knicks, and the fans have clearly soured on him. They jeered him when the Mavs hit the floor for pregame warm-ups, then did so again during the national anthem. And again when Porzingis won the opening tip, plus whenever else he touched the ball in the early going.
Morris scored 20 points and Julius Randle had 17 points and 10 rebounds for the Knicks, who were playing their first home game since they were routed on Sunday by Cleveland. After that game, Knicks President Steve Mills and General Manager Scott Perry held a news conference to express their disappointment with the team’s start.
The Knicks were much better on Thursday, perhaps fueled by a crowd that treated Porzingis as rudely as it had any opponent at Madison Square Garden in recent years.
Porzingis was playing at the Garden for the first time since tearing his anterior cruciate ligament on Feb. 6, 2018. While rehabbing the injury, he was surprisingly dealt to Dallas on Jan. 31. Knicks management said he had told them in a meeting that day that he didn’t want to stay with the franchise.
Porzingis looked rattled at the beginning of Thursday’s game and then confused in the middle, appearing to walk toward the wrong tunnel at halftime before stopping and turning to exit in the opposite direction.
He couldn’t silence the early boos with a basket, missing his first four shots before finally getting a field goal on a tip-in about four minutes into the second quarter.
Doncic missed his first six 3-pointers, then made three in a row late in the third quarter. When he missed another one, Porzingis soared in to slam home the miss with 0.4 seconds left and tie the game at 87-all headed to the fourth quarter.