Following a performance in which he registered his latest dominant 20-20 stat line, perhaps it was fitting that Enes Kanter mostly wanted to talk about his improved vision on the court.
Indeed, Kanter registered exactly 20 points and 20 rebounds in the Knicks’ 111-95 win on Tuesday over the Nets, but he also led the fast break a few times and matched his season-high with five assists to his team’s fourth straight win this season over rival Brooklyn
“I felt like Magic Johnson out there,” Kanter joked.
The Turkish center never will be confused with one of the greatest point guards of all-time, of course, but Kanter is averaging 14.0 points and 10.1 rebounds per game this season.
Is that enough to get him considered as a replacement for the upcoming All-Star Game — possibly for injured Cleveland big man Kevin Love — alongside Kristaps Porzingis on the squad drafted by nemesis LeBron James?
Enes Kanter has flourished with the Knicks.
“I might ask for a trade,” Kanter joked, referring to his ongoing war of words with James this season. “If it happens, it happens. If not, I got to go to break. I’m going to cheer for KP.
Asked if it would “mean something” to him to be so honored in his first season with the Knicks, Kanter added: “Of course. It’s an All-Star (Game). We’re representing the New York Knicks. It would be a really good thing. But if it happens, it happens. If not, just focus on the playoffs.”
Kanter, who played Tuesday’s game with stitches in his lip suffered the previous day in a practice collision with teammate Doug McDermott, had posted a 31-point, 22-rebound game in a loss to Philadelphia on Christmas.
This marked his first game of at least 20 boards thereafter, and the five assists he added – including a few kick-outs to Porzingis for key three-pointers – helped lift the Knicks to their first back-to-back wins since mid-December.
“I just played. We’re just having fun out there. The assists just came with it,” said Kanter, who also had registered five assists last week at Golden State. “Teams just keep sending double teams. That’s what my teammates are telling me: score if you’re one-on-one. But if they come with a double team just make the extra pass and make your teammate better.
“We know that teams cannot guard me or KP one-on-one down low. They just keep on sending double teams, and KP is doing an unbelievable job finding the open man. That’s what I’m trying to do.”
Porzingis paced the Knicks with 28 points, but he credited the unselfishness of his fellow 7-footer for helping him drain a few of his six three-pointers.
“Enes was a monster today,” Porzingis said. “Just a bulldozer. He did what he does. Great game for him, 20-20. Maybe he was mad from yesterday that he got hit in the mouth and his lip was (bleeding). I don’t know. He had a great game. I’ll be happy for him.”