NEW YORK • Kristaps Porzingis was back in action, and the "MVP" chants rained down. Only they were not for the Latvian on Thursday in his first National Basketball Association (NBA) game after missing two with a sore knee.
The New York Knicks power forward had arguably his worst game as a pro in the 102-93 win over the Boston Celtics, their fifth win in six games. Instead, it was hot-scoring reserve forward Michael Beasley, the once-jettisoned problem child, who felt the love from the Madison Square Garden crowd.
Beasley had 32 points, including 28 in the final 18 minutes, and 12 rebounds to lead the Knicks (17-14) to a win over their Atlantic Division foes, who have lost five of nine after starting the season 22-4.
"I'm just here for the team," the 28-year-old said. "Whatever they need, whenever they need it. Scoring, rebounding, defence, just trying my best. As humbly as I can say it, I just feel like every shot that I shoot is going in."
He has scored 84 points in the Knicks' past three games, the biggest scoring output for the former No. 2 pick in years.
"He made a bunch of tough shots; credit to him," Celtics coach Brad Stevens said after the game.
"He got up and raised up over guys, whether it was Semi (Ojeyele), Al (Horford), Marcus (Smart) - whoever was on him. He just got into that rhythm and he's a tremendous individual scorer when he gets going like that."
Kyrie Irving scored 32 points and rookie Jayson Tatum had 17 to lead the Celtics, who dropped consecutive games for the first time this season. The Eastern Conference leaders were without starter Jaylen Brown, their top pick last season, who was sidelined with Achilles tendon soreness.
Porzingis, who has missed six games this season, shot 0-for-11 from the field. He missed all of his shots in the first half and did not attempt a field goal in the third quarter, settling for a lone free throw for his only point of the game.
"Thanks to me, the game was close. I kept it close," he said. "Michael Beasley had my back tonight."
LA LAKERS V GOLDEN STATE
Singtel TV Ch110, 9am