(The Sports Xchange) - For the second time in three days, it took until the mid-fourth quarter for Madison Square Garden to come alive.
Once it did, though, the legendary arena rocked as it hasn’t in years.
And this time, the New York Knicks were coming back from a 19-point deficit instead of trying to hold onto a big lead.
The Knicks eventually overcame Indiana on Sunday night for a 108-101 win after the Pacers led by more than 10 points for much of the game.
With 3:26 remaining, Kristaps Porzingis hit a leaning jumper while drawing a foul. The Latvian drew chants of “MVP! MVP!” as he sank the free throw, giving New York its first lead since just over three minutes remained in the first quarter.
Soon after, he capped off one of the great all-around NBA performances in more than three decades, finishing with a career-high 40 points, including 17 in the fourth quarter, as the Knicks (5-4) won for the fifth time in six games.
Porzingis, who added eight rebounds, six blocks and two 3-pointers — the first 40-5-5-2 NBA performance since 1983-84 — exploded for 10 points in a five-minute stretch to start the final quarter, which the Knicks entered trailing 84-72.
Porzingis made 15 of 24 shots from the field and hit 8 of 9 free throws, concluding a week in which he also put up games of 38 (then a career high) and 37 points.
Porzingis said he was happy to play the role of team leader, even with the extra attention it brings from opposition defenses.
“I’m very comfortable,” he said, according to the New York Post. “I’m seeing a different type of defense almost every night. No matter who I’m playing against they’re trying to be physical with me.”
Knick coach Jeff Hornacek heaped praise on Porzingis.
“He’s got great confidence when he’s shooting,” Hornacek said.
“We figured out a way to get him the ball. He’s playing great. On defense, he came in there and got one really good block. Can’t argue with the way he’s playing.”
Tim Hardaway Jr. (16 points) and rookie first-round pick Frank Ntilikina (10) were the only other Knicks to score in double figures, though Enes Kanter added nine points and 18 rebounds.
Editing by Andrew Both