Kristaps Porzingis expected a hostile environment during his return to Madison Square Garden for the first time as a visiting player, and that's exactly what greeted him Thursday evening.
The Dallas Mavericks forward, who finished with 20 points and 11 rebounds in a 106-103 loss, heard boos from the New York Knicks' faithful throughout the contest, including during pregame warmups, as the national anthem blared, and every time he touched the ball.
"I don't know if it was fair or not," Porzingis told ESPN's Malika Andrews postgame when discussing the reception. "I don't really think about that too much. It is what it is, and we came here to win a game. We're frustrated that we didn't get it done."
Knicks fans didn't hold back their vulgarity while directing insults toward the team's former star. Porzingis was incessantly called an "asshole," at times labeled a "traitor," and even received chants imploring him to return to his native Latvia.
The Knicks also didn't show any tribute for Porzingis to thank him for his three-plus seasons with the club, Andrews notes.
Luka Doncic, who dropped 33 points, 11 assists, and 10 rebounds to finish with his fifth triple-double of the young season, sympathized with Porzingis.
"It was really tough for him," Doncic said. "I don't think he deserved it. He gave a lot to the Knicks. They booed him at the draft. I don't think he deserves this in my point of view, but he handled it professionally and I am really proud of him."
The hard-fought loss dropped Dallas' record to 6-5, still good enough for a one-game cushion over the ninth-place San Antonio Spurs in the Western Conference.
New York improved to 3-9 with the victory.