Porzingis shines against former team, ‘wanted to make them pay’ originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston
In what seemed to be a revenge game for the Latvian, Boston Celtics big man Kristaps Porzingis looked unguardable against the Washinton Wizards — his former team — on Friday night. Logging a 34-point double-double, just his second in his career, Porzingis helped lead the Celtics to a 133-129 win.
Finishing second in team scoring behind Jayson Tatum (35), Porzingis took full advantage of a small Washington defense, scoring 34 points on 9-of-18 from the field and finishing 2-of-4 from beyond the arc. He also performed flawlessly from the charity stripe, converting on all 14 of his free-throw attempts — a new career-high. The 7-footer led Boston’s rebounding efforts in the victory, finishing with a team-high 11 boards.
Following the final buzzer, NBC Sports Boston’s Abby Chin caught up with Porzingis courtside to discuss his big night against the team that traded him to Boston back in June.
“Yes, yes I did, and I wanted to make them pay,” Porzingis said in response to whether he felt there was a mismatch that allowed for his scoring outburst. “They just traded away their five [Daniel Gafford] and they don’t really have a big man, so those are the type of games that Joe [Mazzulla], Brad [Stevens], and the front office brought me here for, to punish those mismatches and create an advantage for us, so that’s what I did tonight.”
Listed at 7-foot-2, none of Washington’s players had a chance against Porzingis. Kyle Kuzma and Deni Avdija, both listed at 6-foot-9, were Washington’s tallest active players — both failed to find a way to stop their former teammate.
“Of course,” Porzingis responded when asked whether it was fun to play against his former teammates after being observed laughing with Avdija before the opening tip-off. “All the talk during pregame, as soon as the game started you talk a little bit back and forth with your ex-teammates, they know your game, you know their game — it’s always fun to play against former teammates and today was no different.”
Although it may have been fun to catch up with his old teammates, there is certainly no doubt that Porzingis is loving his time in Boston. At every home game, Porzingis continues to smile, wave, nod, or even wink at fans who call out his name as he comes out of the tunnel for pregame warmups. It’s been rare to see the big man without a smile on his face since arriving in Boston, and it’s safe to say the feeling is mutual with the fans loving every second of him wearing green.
The Celtics finish their seven-game homestand at 5-2 and will head to South Beach to take on Jimmy Butler and the Miami Heat on Sunday afternoon to kick off a short two-game road trip.