Kristaps Porzingis feeling better, but 'don't tell' Heat

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Friday, January 5, 2018

Kristaps Porzingis said that he's feeling refreshed heading into Friday's game against the Miami Heat and then joked that his comments about being "tired" were meant to throw off the competition.

"I was tired after the back-to-back. A day off always helps," Porzingis told reporters in Miami on Friday after the Knicks' shootaround.

Porzingis' remarks about being tired after Wednesday's loss to the Washington Wizards drew some attention this week, but he said Friday -- just as he did Wednesday -- that he was solely tired after playing in consecutive games.

"All I know is, of course, after a playing a back-to-back, everyone feels tired if you play hard. It does matter to have a day in between," he said when asked whether his comments were misinterpreted.

He then joked.

"It was a strategy to make the Miami Heat relax a little bit -- 'Oh he's tired.' That's why I did it," Porzingis said. "I feel good today. Don't tell them.''

Porzingis, who was diagnosed with anemia as a teenager, doesn't have any overarching issues with fatigue. Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek, however, suggested the team might alter how Porzingis' minutes are distributed.

"Maybe give him more shorter stints in minutes and save him for the fourth quarter," Hornacek told reporters.

The Knicks have a West Coast trip that includes a game in Denver, and Hornacek didn't rule out the possibility of giving Porzingis the night off in a high-altitude city like Denver. However, the coach added there are no concrete plans to do so.

Porzingis also clarified on Friday that he wasn't making excuses with his remark about being tired. He said he was feeling better after his off day following two consecutive games.

"Every day off helps, especially after a back-to-back that we had," Porzingis said. "That's what I meant."

The 22-year-old said earlier in the season that he was fully prepared to shoulder the burden of being the Knicks' No. 1 option in the wake of the Carmelo Anthony trade. He reiterated that on Friday.

"It's physically harder [but] that's something I was preparing myself for,'' Porzingis said. "It's not something, all of a sudden it hit me and now I have to prepare myself for it. I have to be ready for it if I want to be the guy. There can't be any excuses with so many minutes I'm playing."

Porzingis is fourth among Eastern Conference frontcourt players after the first round of All-Star voting, which was released Thursday. He trails Philadelphia's Joel Embiid by about 70,000 votes. The top three frontcourt players will be starters.

Porzingis said he hopes to receive an All-Star bid -- either as a starter or by being voted in by head coaches as a reserve.

"It's a dream of mine to be an All-Star since I got to the NBA,'' Porzingis said. "That's something I want to achieve individually, also realizing that's not how you want to be remembered as only a good individual player. A lot of that will come with winning. If we win, we're all going to look good."

New York (16-18) has lost seven of nine entering Friday's game in Miami. The Knicks are 3-13 on the road and play 12 of their next 14 away from Madison Square Garden.

The club -- and Porzingis, in particular -- seems to be affected by the absence of starting shooting guard Tim Hardaway Jr., who has been out for a month with a stress injury in his left leg. Porzingis is shooting 40 percent in 13 games without the starting shooting guard. He was shooting 47 percent from the floor (and 40 percent from beyond the arc) before Hardaway's injury.

"Having Tim out doesn't make stuff easier," Porzingis said Wednesday. "Hopefully Tim can be back with us soon and kind of take a little bit of pressure and attention off of myself and other guys."

ESPN's Ian Begley contributed to this report.