The comparisons to Dirk Nowitzki were inevitable once Kristaps Porzingis entered the League, and on Monday night, the two big fellas with feathery touches squared off at Madison Square Garden.

Young Taps won the individual battle, but Dirk took the war as the Dallas Mavericks won 104-97.

Nowitzki says that Porizingis is the real deal—the rookie poured in a game-high 28 points but couldn’t help the New York Knicks complete a fourth quarter rally.

Per the AP:

“The comparisons are more than fair,” Nowitzki said. “He’s way ahead of the curve. When I was 20 I was scared to death out there. He’s almost averaging a double-double out there. He’s better than I was in my 20s, so the comparison is probably unfair to him. He’s a complete package.”

 

Porzingis had 12 points in the fourth quarter of his first matchup with Nowitzki, the German great he has been compared to for his perimeter shooting skills by a 7-footer. […] “It really doesn’t matter because we still lost,” he said, “but yeah, I was just hitting shots and trying to do the things to help the team win at the end.”

 

The Latvian rookie made consecutive 3-pointers as the Knicks cut what had been a 23-point deficit to 101-97 with 43 seconds left, then blocked Deron Williams’ shot. But Carmelo Anthony was called for an offensive foul as the Knicks were trying to work to get the ball to Porzingis for another shot, and Nowitzki followed with a free throw before Williams made two more to close it out. […] “Dirk loves these types of situations, taking the challenge of a young guy like this, and Porzingis is a special player,” Mavs coach Rick Carlisle said.