December 15, 2014

The Kristaps Porzingis-Dirk Nowitzki comparison is easy to make, especially since the New York Knicks rookie grew up modeling his game after the Dallas Mavericks' superstar.

Porzingis finally gets a chance to face his childhood idol Monday night, though Nowitzki will be trying to teach the youngster a lesson or two and help the visiting Mavericks continue their dominance in this series.

When the Knicks selected Porzingis with the fourth pick in this year's draft, the then-teenage Latvian was compared to several European stars, but the similarities to Nowitzki are obvious. Both are 7-foot forwards with seemingly infinite shooting range.

Porzingis has even confessed to studying video of the German-born Nowitzki as a child, and now the Knicks' rising fan favorite is anxious to meet and compete against one of his heroes for the first time.

"You know I want to go up against Dirk, he's one of the guys I looked up to and learned the game from," Porzingis said. "It definitely won't be easy, but I'm looking forward to it."

In terms of their first NBA seasons, Porzingis seems to be ahead of Nowitzki, who had just turned 20 when Milwaukee made him the ninth pick in 1998. Nowitzki averaged 8.2 points and 3.4 rebounds as a rookie before going on to become one of the league's great big men with 13 All-Star appearances to go with regular-season and finals MVP awards.

Porzingis is averaging 14.0 points and 9.2 rebounds after scoring 12 with seven boards and five blocks while battling foul trouble in Saturday's 106-91 loss at Milwaukee.

The Knicks (10-11) are looking to get back on track defensively after allowing their highest field-goal percentage (49.4) in 17 games. They've surrendered 89.0 points on 40.1 percent shooting in winning their last two at home.

New York is seeking its longest win streak at Madison Square Garden since a four-game run from Jan. 19-Feb. 1, but has dropped 10 of the past 13 there against the Mavericks (12-9) and 22 of 27 in the series.

Nowitzki's 25.7 scoring average at the Garden is his highest at any venue, though he's totaled 31 points while missing eight of nine from 3-point range in his last two visits. The 37-year-old is still going strong with a 17.5 average after scoring 19 in Sunday's 116-104 win at Washington.

Wesley Matthews led the way with a career high-tying 36 points and career-best 10 3-pointers. Former Knicks guard Raymond Felton contributed 11 points, 10 rebounds and six assists with J.J. Barea (sprained knee) out and Devin Harris leaving with a rib injury.

"The effort was terrific. You know, our whole team was due for a shotmaking night, and Wes led the way," coach Rick Carlisle told the team's official website after Dallas went 16 for 31 from 3-point range.

Matthews averaged 21.3 points while hitting 12 of 27 (44.4 percent) from long range in his last three games against the Knicks while with Portland.

The Mavericks look to sweep this brief trip after reaching 100 points in regulation and shooting 50.0 percent for the first time in seven games.

Chandler Parsons, coming along slowing following offseason knee surgery, should return after resting in the second of back-to-back games.

New York will likely monitor Carmelo Anthony's status after the star admitted his knee felt numb Saturday after receiving post-game treatment.

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