NEW YORK — Two days after allowing three Golden State Warriors to score 20-plus points in a 21-point loss, the Orlando Magic travel to New York on Sunday afternoon to face a Knicks team that could be missing its most dangerous weapon.
Kristaps Porzingis’ status remains in doubt for the Knicks’ tilt with the Magic, whose big loss to the Warriors followed one of their best wins of the season, a 121-108 victory against Oklahoma City that snapped a nine-game losing streak.
Porzingis sprained his right ankle less than three minutes into the Knicks’ 115-86 home win versus the Miami Heat on Wednesday night, and he told reporters on Friday that swelling remained.
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Porzingis was in good spirits after his injury following Wednesday’s game and pledged to return quickly.
“They call me the lizard because I recover so quickly from things,” he said with a smile. “So hopefully it’s nothing too big and I’m going to get treatment, and hopefully the lizard will be ready for Sunday.”
On Saturday, Frank Isola of the New York Daily News reported that the Knicks’ top player and the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer was also battling an illness.
“He’s still young,” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek told reporters. “He is 7-foot-3 and there are going to be times he has bumps and bruises and stuff like that. It was kind of a pride thing back in the day to play all 82. They’re spreading games out, eliminating four games in five nights. So barring any injuries there is no reason to rest anymore.”
With Porzingis sidelined for much of the team’s blowout of the Heat, the Knicks thrived with the return of center Enes Kanter, who had missed the previous three games — all losses — with back spasms. Kanter had a team-high 22 points and 14 rebounds in the win, but perhaps more importantly for New York, he brought his interior defense back to MSG. The Knicks held the Heat to 38 percent field-goal shooting and 26.3 percent from 3-point range while no Miami starter scored more than 13 points.
The Knicks will need a similar effort to contain emerging Magic star Aaron Gordon, who had one of the league’s best games of the season in the team’s win over Oklahoma City. Gordon had 40 points on 13-of-23 shooting, including going 6 of 12 from 3-point range, and added 15 rebounds, four assists and four steals in 44 minutes.
“I was just aggressive, taking opportunities, not passing anything up,” Gordon said after the win against the Thunder. “If the open pass presented itself, then I was making the right read.”
New York also could be without first-round pick Frank Ntilikina, who also has a sprained ankle — his left — and is listed as questionable.
The Knicks already know what it’s like to face the Magic this season without Porzingis. Porzingis, who is averaging 25.8 points on the year, missed the Knicks’ 112-99 loss at Orlando on Nov. 8 with ankle and elbow ailments.
Gordon, Evan Fournier and Nikola Vucevic combined for 68 points with the Knicks’ stalwart out of the lineup, shooting 26 of 43 from the field.