DALLAS — Kristaps Porzingis knows it will be loud next Thursday at the Garden when he returns to New York. He just doesn’t know what sort of noise he will hear.
“I don’t know,’’ Porzingis said after his first meeting with the Knicks ended in a surprising 106-102 loss Friday at American Airlines Center. “Probably a lot of noise. I don’t know if it’s going to be positive or negative. But it’s going to be a lot of emotion — I think from the fans and for me also coming back to New York.
“It’s going to be interesting. I’m looking forward to the game. I spent four years of my life living there. … It’s going to be special coming back to New York for sure.’’
Porzingis, who requested the Knicks trade him, was brilliant for three-plus quarters, but faded. He finished with 28 points, made 11 of 22 shots, 4 of 8 from 3-point range. His divorce from the Knicks was messy, but he had a good moment with coach David Fizdale on the court after the final whistle.
It was clear he didn’t ask for a trade because of Fizdale.
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“He did [say nice things],’’ Porzingis said. “He said he was happy to see me and happy that I was happy. And I know he’s trying his best for the team to play well and putting in guys in situations where they can succeed and giving Frank [Ntilikina] a great opportunity now and he showed what he’s capable of…. I know Fizdale is doing his best to make that thing work. I know the type of coach he is and the type of character he has so it was good to see him.’’
Fizdale, when asked about his talk with Porzingis, said: “I just asked him [if he was] happy. That’s what it’s all about. You’ve got to find happiness in this league. He said he was happy, he’s enjoying it. I told him I’m just really happy to see him back out there healthy and running around.’’
Dennis Smith Jr. was back on his old court Friday morning, but did not get a shot to face the Mavericks for the first time since they traded him away last January.
After spending 11 days home in North Carolina to mourn the death of his stepmother, Smith rejoined the Knicks on Thursday, but was held out of Friday’s win, staying at the team hotel to watch the game.
Smith, nevertheless, still made his return to Dallas meaningful. The 22-year-old point guard, whom the Mavericks drafted ninth overall in 2017, made a point to visit the family of local teenager Shavon Randle, who was kidnapped and murdered in June 2017, a source told the Dallas Morning News. Smith had taken the family on a shopping spree last Christmas and after reuniting with them Thursday night, he brought Randle’s siblings to school Friday morning before attending the Knicks’ shootaround.
“He’s still got to get his legs underneath him and we’ll take it from there,” Fizdale said. “We don’t want to risk that and put him in a tough situation.”
Fizdale said it was too early to tell whether Smith would be available for Sunday’s game against the Cavaliers.
Mitchell Robinson was also held out of Friday’s game and is day-to-day after suffering a concussion in Wednesday’s loss to the Pistons. He remained in the protocol and wore sunglasses as he left the court after Friday morning’s shootaround.
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