Kristaps Porzingis had Madison Square Garden buzzing in the third quarter. The agile 7-3 rookie swooped in and soared to grab a Carmelo Anthony miss and in the same motion threw it down with his right hand over LaMarcus Aldridge.
But late in the game, the arena went silent after Porzingis was involved in a scary moment after another Anthony miss.
He was down on the floor, with his hand over his face for a while and eventually walked off gingerly and headed to the locker room with 2:49 to go.
Porzingis got tangled up inside and was on the floor when Anthony fell back and landed on the rookie's neck and back of his head after attempting a shot. The Knicks were well on their way to a 94-84 loss to the Spurs Monday night, but concern immediately turned to Porzingis.
The Knicks said X-rays of Porzingis' neck were negative. He has a soft tissue injury and will continue to be evaluated, the team said.
He was having his best game and finished with his first NBA double-double. Porzingis had 13 points, 14 rebounds and two blocks. Anthony led the Knicks with 19 points, but was 4-for-17 from the field. The Knicks dropped to 2-2 and are 0-2 at home.
Aldridge had 19 points, Kawhi Leonard 18 and Tim Duncan and Tony Parker each scored 16 for the Spurs.
The Knicks showed mettle throughout the game. They were down by 13 in the third, but they hung around with the more polished Spurs and drew within 84-79 on a Robin Lopez hook shot with 7:07 left.
But that was the last points the Knicks would score until an Anthony foul shot with 1:40 left. The Knicks went more than seven minutes between field goals. Their next one was a Jerian Grant jumper with 5.5 seconds left. They missed 11 straight shots and had four turnovers before Grant's basket.
This is the first time the Knicks played Aldridge since their free-agent face-to-face with him was canceled last summer. Aldridge reportedly wasn't interested in the Knicks because they wanted him to play center so Porzingis could play power forward. The Knicks ended up signing Lopez.
"I don't have to get into the details of when the meeting was scheduled and why it didn't happen," coach Derek Fisher said. "It didn't happen. He signed with the Spurs. The rest is history."
But it would have been hard to foresee Aldridge, a Texas native, bypassing the Spurs and a chance for a championship to play for the rebuilding Knicks.
"I think being from Texas for sure had to factor in at some level from a personal perspective," Fisher said. "But professionally you're seeing a lot of athletes in all sports try and find ways to associate themselves with success and the Spurs have represented that for a long time.
"I think many players, even franchise players, in recent years have made decisions if they have a chance to join a really good situation, it's maybe not just about the money or about the stats or just about their own role, but they want to be a part of something special."
Porzingis helped get the Knicks off to a good start. He was very active on the boards and had an acrobatic layup and three-pointer early. But the Spurs held the Knicks to 14 second-quarter points and opened up a 47-35 halftime lead.
Porzingis provided another spark in the third with his highlight follow slam. But then he picked up his fourth foul four minutes in and went to the bench. The Knicks were down 57-44 with 7:45 left, but closed to 70-65 at the end of the third.