On night Porzingis struggles, Beasley becomes Knicks' MVP

NBA.com Global on Dec 22, 2017 02:22 PM
On night Porzingis struggles, Beasley becomes Knicks' MVP
New York Knicks' Michael Beasley, center looks at the screen during the second half of an NBA basketball game against the Boston Celtics at Madison Square Garden in New York, Thursday, Dec. 21, 2017. (AP Photo/Andres Kudacki)

By Matt Petersen, NBA.com

When Michael Beasley and Kristaps Porzingis entered the NBA, this was how many thought it would go.

Beasley, the No. 2 overall pick in 2008, was viewed as an unstoppable offensive machine, capable of single-handedly torching a defense. Porzingis was considered the all-risk consolation prize from overseas, a 7'3" symbol of bad luck after the Knicks toppled from the second-best odds in the draft to the fourth overall pick in 2015.

Opinions changed drastically as their respective careers unfolded. Beasley's on-court inefficiency and off-court issues combined to wear out his welcome quickly in Miami, Minnesota, Phoenix and Miami again by the time Porzingis entered the league. When he did, it was to the boos of the ever-vocal Knicks fans who were frustrated at losing out on Karl-Anthony Towns and Jahlil Okafor.

Fast-forward further, and the disparity between expectations and reality is even greater. Porzingis is now fondly referred to as The Unicorn due to his unique and dominant blend of size, speed and skill. He is viewed as the quintessential talent with franchise-player potential. Beasley, meanwhile, signed on with the Knicks during the offseason as a low-cost, low-risk, addition to the depth chart. If he failed to produce, well, his lack of impact would not alter a game's outcome.

One quarter of the way through the season, Porzingis and Beasley stayed true to those roles -- until Thursday night (Friday, PHL time), when they flipped completely against the East-best Boston Celtics.

First-time visitors/viewers left the game thinking two things: that Beasley is a Kia Most Valuable Player candidate and Porzingis is a terrible, terrible basketball player.

Neither of those facts are true. It just looked that way for one magically insane night.

There was Kristaps Porzingis, the Knicks' beloved star, missing shot after shot after shot. He made one all night. It was a free throw. The Latvian sensation clanked all 11 of his field goal attempts. The unlikeliness of it all left him joking at his own expense after the game.

"Kobe [Bryant] says you miss 100 percent of the shots you don't take," Porzingis said. "Today I missed all hundred."

On the other side of a Knicks world turned upside-down was Beasley, seemingly making "all hundred." The fallen top-two pick flashed the potential that made him dominant in college and frustrating in the pros, scoring 18 of his game-high 32 points in the fourth quarter. Knicks fans, always quick to show appreciation for any quality performance, serenaded him with chants of "M-V-P."

Michael Beasley? MVP? In Madison Square Garden?

For one night, yes, and there was no doubt the much-maligned forward loved every second of his shining moment. He was asked after the game when he started feeling the hot hand. With zero hesitation, he cited his date of birth.

"January 9, 1989," Beasley quipped.

The performances and post-game quotes were as unlikely as the result itself: a 102-93 Knicks victory over the mighty Celtics, handing them their first back-to-back defeats since opening week. It would have been plausible under the usual script, one in which Porzingis played the lead role and Beasley an extra.

The opposite occurred. Hilarity ensued. And the Knicks won.

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