Dallas held off New York 104-97 Monday at Madison Square Garden, but the 7-foot-3 Porzingis showed why he is capable of replacing Nowitzki as the next great player from Europe, connecting on mid- to long-range jumpers and displaying some good low-post moves.
The 20-year-old rookie, who played in Spain last season and grew up idolizing Nowitzki, led the Knicks (10-12) with 28 points, one shy of his career high. He single-handedly brought New York back from a 98-81 deficit with 5:52 to play by scoring eight straight points to slice the deficit to 101-97 with 43 seconds to play.
However, Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was called for an offensive foul as he was trying to get the ball to Porzingis on the perimeter. Nowitzki made one of two free throws, and guard Deron Williams closed it out by making two from the line.
Nowitzki, who was guarded by Porzingis at times, topped Dallas (13-9) with 25 points and six rebounds. Williams poured in 20 points and added seven assists.
"It was fun at first," Porzingis said of the matchup with Nowitzki. "He showed why he's Dirk Nowitzki. In the first half, I let him shoot open shots, and of course he made them.
"It was a lesson for me. Something to learn from. It just shows me that maybe I have the potential to one day be as good as he is."
Nowitzki said, "(Porzingis) is for real. We've said it before. He's tougher than you think, long, athletic and can put the ball on the floor."
When told Porzingis watched hours of tapes of the 37-year-old Nowitzki, now in his 17th NBA season, and that he patterns his game after him, the German responded, "It sort of means I'm old. But I've been blessed to be around for a long time. It's an honor that guys respect my game over so long.
"I wish him nothing but luck and think the sky is the limit for this kid. Not only because he is good, but I've heard he lives and breathes basketball."
Porzingis hit 13 of 18 shots from the floor and blocked two shots. He scored 12 of the Knicks' 25 fourth-quarter points. Nowitzki sank nine of 18 field-goal attempts.
"Porzingis is a special player, and the city of New York has (Knicks president) Phil Jackson to thank for that one," Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle said. "(Porzingis) is a great young player who has the chance to truly be special."
Anthony finished with 17 points, eight assists and six rebounds, but he committed a game-high five turnovers.
After a Nowitzki rebound, Dallas outscored the Knicks 6-2 early in the fourth quarter for a comfortable 94-74 lead with 9:48 remaining.
Dallas led by as much as 80-58 with 4:41 to play in the third, but the Knicks made an 11-2 run to draw within 82-69. Reserve center Kevin Seraphin scored four points in the run for New York.
Forward Dwight Powell scored five consecutive points for Dallas in the last 47 seconds of the third for an 88-72 Mavericks lead.
Dallas outscored the Knicks, who were playing their third game in four nights, 18-3 from 3-point range and led 34-28 after the first quarter. Nowitzki scored 11 of the Mavericks' first 13 points in the first five minutes.
"Dirk got us off to a great start," Carlisle said. "I thought throughout the whole game he was consistent, and when we needed to get a few stops throughout the whole game, he was there."
The Mavericks remained hot from beyond the arc in the second quarter, going 5-for-10 en route to a 63-50 halftime edge. Williams' nine points were the high for the period.
NOTES: G J.J. Barea (sprained right ankle) and G Devin Harris (rib injury) were out for the Mavericks. ... G Cleanthony Early was inactive for the Knicks. .... Dallas F Dirk Nowitzki began the night with a 25.7-point scoring average at Madison Square Garden, his highest at any NBA venue. ... The Knicks were swept in two games by the Mavericks last season, marking the first time Dallas swept a season series from New York since 2010-11. ... The Mavericks wore green throwback uniforms from when they first entered the league.