Karl-Anthony Towns’ first impression of Kristaps Porzingis when the two first met was the obvious one.
“He’s very tall,” Towns said. “I knew that from the get-go.”
Towns, Jahlil Okafor and Porzingis were the top three big men taken in the 2015 NBA draft, and Towns got to know the 7-3 Porzingis a bit during the predraft process. On draft night, Towns went No. 1 to the Wolves, Okafor No. 3 to the Sixers and Porzingis No. 4 to the Knicks.
So for the first time in their careers, Towns and Porzingis will meet on the court Wednesday in New York.
“I’m excited,” Porzingis said about the upcoming matchup. “I’d like to play against him.”
All three big men have started their careers well. Towns was the Western Conference player of the month for November; Porzingis won it in the East. Towns is averaging 14.9 points, 9.2 rebounds and 2.2 blocks per game. Porzingis is averaging 13.6, 8.4 and 1.8, respectively.
Porzingis, from Latvia, played professionally in Europe starting in 2011 before entering the NBA draft. Some Knicks fans booed when his name was announced on draft night, but since then he has won over both the fans and All-Star teammate Carmelo Anthony. He scored 29 points against Charlotte on Nov. 17 and had 24 points, 14 rebounds and seven blocks at Houston on Nov. 21. He has 10 double-doubles in 25 games.
Towns, who also has 10 double-doubles, has had games of 26, 27 and 28 points.
“I heard he was very talented coming out,’’ said Towns, who grew up in New Jersey watching the Knicks. “And I’m just glad he’s able to make [my hometown] very proud.”
Porzingis’ stats have recently dropped, scoring only 17 points on 6-for-25 shooting in his past three games. By his own admission, he felt his legs were a little tired. The mini-slump, which occurred during a three-game road trip, ended with his first scoreless game in New York’s 112-110 victory in Portland on Saturday.
Towns has already gone up against Okafor in the Wolves’ 100-95 victory over Philadelphia on Nov. 23. Okafor got the better stats that night (25 points, 12 rebounds), while Towns battled foul trouble and finished with six points and two rebounds. Porzingis had 17 points, 10 boards and four blocks in New York’s 99-87 victory over Philadelphia on Dec. 2, a game Okafor missed because of a team suspension.
Nemanja Bjelica’s knee is fine. But, he’ll admit, he is still adjusting to the rigors of NBA life.
Bjelica missed four games because of a knee bruise. In the seven games since his return, he has averaged only 4.7 points per game.
Part of it might be that Bjelica, who previously played in Europe, is still adjusting to the NBA’s demanding schedule.
“I think this is normal,” he said. “Here we play a game almost every day. I just need to get used to it.”
Wolves interim coach Sam Mitchell said he thinks Bjelica is still adjusting to the speed of the game.
“This game is a lot faster,” Mitchell said. “Guys are quicker. You have to get used to the speed and pace of the game.”
Jones playing well
Guard Tyus Jones is making the most of his time with the Idaho Stampede of the D-League. Heading into Tuesday’s game against Bakersfield, Jones was averaging 21.3 points, 5.0 assists and was shooting 46.3 percent in three games.