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Porzingis likely to return for Knicks vs. Nuggets

DENVER -- New York Knicks forward Kristaps Porzingis celebrated his selection the All-Star Game by sitting out a double-digit loss to the Golden State Warriors on Tuesday night.

The present and future face of the Knicks had a bum knee, and it was a collaborative decision with Porzingis and the team's medical staff.

Porzingis is expected to play Thursday when the Knicks visit the Denver Nuggets.

"I feel much better," Porzingis told reporters Wednesday. "My knee - I was limited in practice but almost did everything and it feels pretty good. What am I for tomorrow? Questionable for tomorrow, but I think questionable is 50-50. I would say like 74 percent."

Porzingis' presence hasn't helped the Knicks attain much success on the road. They are 6-18 outside of Madison Square Garden and 2-3 on a seven-game trip that concludes Friday in Phoenix.

Denver is 17-6 on its home court. The silver lining for the Knicks is the Nuggets tend to give home games away to sub-.500 teams.

Recent losses at Pepsi Center to Atlanta and Phoenix had Denver reeling but things got straightened out at least for a night with a 104-101 win over Portland on Monday night. Now the Nuggets (24-23) are trying to build some momentum during this five-game homestand, continuing with New York, which rode 38 points by Porzingis Oct. 30 to get a 116-110 win over Denver on Oct. 30.

While the Knicks boast one of the most exciting young players in Porzingis, Denver has two that are a big reason the Nuggets are in the playoff race. Nikola Jokic is one of the best young centers in the NBA, averaging a double-double and drawing praise from coaches and players around the league for his court vision and passing.

What Jokic is lacking is All-Star recognition. Despite his play he was not among the Western Conference reserves, leaving the Nuggets without a representative at the midseason game.

His teammate, Jamal Murray, is deserving of consideration, but considering the crop of point guards in the West it's understandable he didn't get named. He was named to the World Team for the Rising Stars Challenge over All-Star Weekend. He was the MVP of the game last year when he had 36 points and 11 assists.

Murray had a career-high 38 in the win over Portland on Monday, and it was his sixth 30-plus point game this season. His six games of 30 or more points are the most by any player under 21.

More importantly, he took over a game in the fourth quarter when Denver needed it, and he rallied his team to the win.

"Here's a young kid, he's 20 years old going against an all-star in Damian Lillard, not afraid of the moment, lots of confidence," Nuggets coach Michael Malone said after the game. "He was amazing."

The game also is an opportunity for a little sibling reunion.

New York's Willy Hernangomez probably won't face his younger brother, Juancho, but the two at least get to catch up. Both have been mostly out of their respective coaches? rotations this season, but Willy has been in the news more with the trade deadline approaching.

The Knicks have depth at center and Hernangomez is young (23) and has an affordable contract through next season.

With 14 losses in its last 19 games, New York needs something to get back on the winning track. It starts in Denver on Thursday night with or without Porzingis.

Updated January 24, 2018

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