When Kristaps Porzingis and Karl-Anthony Towns met at half-court before opening tipoff Friday night for a handshake and a hug, it seemed as if the two were coming together before another battle, like two boxers bumping gloves before a fight. Two nights before, in Minneapolis, they had combined for 76 points and had alternated fearsome dunks and highlight-reel blocks. It was a look at two of the N.B.A.’s emerging stars, and there was an expectation of a reprise at Madison Square Garden, perhaps the sport’s biggest stage.
Instead, they were overshadowed by an unlikely star. Although Towns and Porzingis roamed the court, the best big man on the floor was Kyle O’Quinn. It was a breakout performance for a five-year veteran with a pedestrian résumé and no distinguishing trait other than his bushy beard.
Still, there he was, riling up the crowd in the Knicks’ 118-114 victory with a slew of moments that endeared him to a fickle audience….