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Knicks' Kristaps Porzingis cleared to play after MRI on Achilles

NEW YORK -- The New York Knicks got some much-needed good news when Kristaps Porzingis was cleared to return on Thursday.

Porzingis underwent an MRI on his troublesome left Achilles and the test confirmed that there is no structural damage. The Knicks' rising star, who had missed the past four games due to the injury, likely will play short stints against the Washington Wizards, according to head coach Jeff Hornacek.

"They did an MRI just to make sure there was nothing before he gets back on the court," Hornacek said before the game. "We'll try to take it easy on him, gradually get him back to the bigger minutes. But we're happy to have him back."

Hornacek would not reveal whether Porzingis will start with Joakim Noah out. Noah underwent an MRI that confirmed he has a sprained left ankle. Noah missed his second straight game due to the injury.

Considering how things had been going for the Knicks over the past month, Hornacek had to be breathing a sigh of relief after the MRI results.

The Knicks had lost 11 of 13 before upsetting the Celtics in Boston on Wednesday night. Before the win, the Knicks had been engulfed by drama with Derrick Rose disappearing for one game recently due to a family issue and then Carmelo Anthony and Phil Jackson's relationship and a meeting between the two earlier this week dominating headlines.

Getting big man Porzingis back healthy is a boost for the Knicks, who still hope to make a run for a playoff spot.

"I'd say I'm 90 percent ready, still not there yet," Porzingis said of his Achilles on Wednesday before the Knicks beat the Celtics. "I have to be really careful of how much I do and how explosive the movements are. If not, I get a little pinch again in the heel down there where the Achilles start."

The Knicks likely will watch their young star closely. Porzingis averaged 19.4 points, 7.4 rebounds and 2.0 blocks entering Thursday night.

"He's been moving around pretty well," Hornacek said. "I think it was just that last step of making sure there was nothing before we put him out there for the minutes. So again, we'll see how his conditioning is.

"In the last two weeks he's played maybe a game, game and a half," Hornacek added. "I'm sure he'll be winded. So we'll probably have short playing minutes with him at each time, get him out, get him some rest and then get him back in."

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