Enes Kanter had a strong showing in his first playoff game with Portland.
The Trail Blazers center posted 20 points and 18 rebounds in his team’s 104-99 win over the Thunder on Sunday. Kanter, though, didn’t begin the season in Portland.
He was released by the struggling Knicks following the trade deadline, clearing the way for him to sign with the Trail Blazers.
Blazers’ Enes Kanter (20 points, 18 rebounds) after Game 1 win over Thunder on turnaround since Knicks tenure: “I was on the worst team in the leauge and I wasn’t even playing because they thought I was too old. … I feel blessed.” pic.twitter.com/8iiQCwxMeC
— Ben Golliver (@BenGolliver) April 14, 2019
“I was on the worst team in the league and I wasn’t even playing because they thought I was too old,” Kanter told reporters after his stellar Game 1 performance.
Trail Blazers star Damian Lillard praised Kanter’s efforts after the victory.
“He was the MVP of the game,” Lillard said. “Especially down the stretch, getting us second opportunities, third opportunities. He had a huge presence down the stretch and he played a huge part in us winning the game.”
Kanter, 26, spent three seasons playing with the Thunder before he was traded to the Knicks in 2017.
Portland lost Jusuf Nurkic to a season-ending leg injury late in the season, and Kanter is on his way to proving he can fill in and be a real difference maker.
Game 2 between the Trail Blazers and Thunder will take place Tuesday at 10:30 p.m. ET.