Phil Jackson recently said that New York Knicks rookie sensation Kristaps Porzingis has a "magical element" to him.
Porzingis has been hearing the Madison Square Garden faithful chant his name and can further endear himself to those fans Friday night by helping the Knicks hand the rival Brooklyn Nets a seventh straight road defeat.
Jackson had high praise for Porzingis in a radio interview, saying "there's the magical element to this young man that has caught the admiration, I think, of the fan base here in New York City and people around the country that do follow the Knicks."
Porzingis leads all rookies with nine double-doubles and a 9.3 rebounding average while ranking third in scoring at 13.8 points per game. His figure of plus-3.1 ranks second among lottery picks and his rapid rise has won over New York's fan base.
"We obviously felt very strongly about drafting him at No. 4, we liked a lot of things about him and thought he would be a great selection," coach Derek Fisher said. "So far although it wasn't approved at first, it seems to have turned a little bit."
The fans were chanting Porzingis' name as time wound down in Wednesday's 99-87 win over Philadelphia that snapped a four-game slide. The 7-foot-1 Porzingis had 17 points, 10 rebounds and four blocks as New York (9-10) held a 52-32 edge in points in the paint.
Now his task is to help New York save face against its nearest rival after the Knicks lost all four 2014-15 meetings with the Nets.
Although Brooklyn (5-13) owns the Eastern Conference's second-worst record, there is every indication that Friday's matchup won't be easy.
The Nets have won consecutive games for the first time since April to start a nine-game stretch in which they won't leave New York, with this contest the only road game.
''Win a bunch of those games, just keep playing hard, take it one game at a time and just see what we can do,'' guard Shane Larkin said.
Larkin will return to face the Knicks for the first time after he logged a team-high 1,865 minutes for last season's club that went 17-65.
Brook Lopez, leading the Nets with 20.1 points per game, will match up again with brother and first-year Knicks center Robin. The twins have met as starters seven times; Brook Lopez is averaging 24.1 points and 8.0 rebounds in those games while Robin is averaging 13.1 and 6.0 with his team winning four times.
A team effort keyed Tuesday's 94-91 win over Phoenix. Larkin's basket with 4:08 left put Brooklyn ahead for good, Lopez scored 23 points and the Nets limited the Suns to 37.5 percent fourth-quarter shooting.
"It shows how much we've actually been growing," Lopez said. "We've definitely seen results in the win column but it's been a progression all season long."
The Nets even played well in their last game away from home despite seeing their road slide reach six, their longest since losing their final seven in 2010-11. They lost 90-88 in Cleveland on Saturday on LeBron James' last-second shot.
Former Knicks center Andrea Bargnani will miss his second straight game with a hamstring injury.
This is the 180th regular-season meeting between these teams, with the Knicks leading 90-89.