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Kristaps Porzingis has Phil Jackson for a tutor

Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks

Kristaps Porzingis #6 of the New York Knicks looks on late in a game against the Miami Heat at Madison Square Garden on Friday, Nov. 27, 2015 in New York City. Photo Credit: Jim McIsaac

GREENBURGH, N.Y. -- Day in and day out, Kristaps Porzingis has been tutored under the watchful eye of Phil Jackson. He's been made privy to the intricacies of the triangle offense and, according to the 7-3 Latvian rookie, he's the better for it.

"He lets coach [Derek] Fisher do all the work, but then he comes up to the guys and tells them little details about the offense," Porzingis said Saturday at practice, where Jackson took some time to chat with him.

"He was telling me about the triangle, how to do certain things a little better, just little details -- where to be . . . To get advice almost every day from him, it's a huge deal for me."

It's no wonder that Jackson has taken a special interest in the Knicks' latest sensation. In only five months, Porzingis' image has been completely revamped from the day he was drafted. He went from a pick that was bemoaned and booed -- memorably, one child shown on the big screen at Barclays Center cried when Porzingis' name was announced -- to a signifier of hope.

It's been 17 games and already he's a fan favorite, and he's got the numbers to back it up.

Porzingis is averaging 13.3 points and 9.1 rebounds in about 27 minutes per game -- statistics well in line with the three guys drafted higher than he was, Karl-Anthony Towns, D'Angelo Russell and Jahlil Okafor. He's also shown a willingness to learn, something that comes to the fore when Jackson is around.

And, according to Porzingis, he's around a lot.

"He's always there," Porzingis said, adding that Jackson sits in a chair near the practice courts and parses what he sees. He comes over, jokes around and then gets down to business.

"It's huge for me, especially a young guy coming into the league. Being with Derek Fisher and Phil Jackson is huge," Porzingis said. "He's very specific, and that's what made him win 11 championships, all the little details.

"We see him around all the time."

Leave Melo alone. Though Carmelo Anthony failed to register a point in the last three quarters of Friday night's 97-78 loss to the Heat, it's not necessarily indicative of a personal flaw but is a team-wide problem, Fisher said.

"The other teams know that that's where we want to get the ball, so they don't make it easy to get [it] there," he said. "We all want the ball to be in Carmelo's hands. But if it's not there, we still want to be able to play offense in a way that allows us to score points.

"It's not fair to him to say, 'Well, we would have won the game last night if we just gave it to him more.' "

Anthony scored 11 points in the first quarter, hitting four of his first five shots, and then went 0-for-8 for the rest of the game.

Notes & quotes: Fisher said he's attempted to tweak the Knicks' rotation a bit to get more production out of the second unit by integrating some starters, but he doesn't want to rely on a go-to scorer in that situation.

He's tried to "maybe get Robin [Lopez] out early and get him back in the game, take Kristaps out, back in," he said. But for secondary units, "you don't have a go-to scorer in the game, so the ball moves more, they're more of a team offense as opposed to an individual offensive group, and actually a lot of times, the second teams play better because of that. That's what we're trying to create."


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