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Inside the friendly rivalry between The Hyphen and The Unicorn

New York Knicks v Brooklyn Nets Photo by Al Bello/Getty Images

Rondae Hollis-Jefferson and Kristaps Porzingis have been matched-up a lot over the course of the last two-plus seasons that they and their teams have faced off, especially since last season when The Hyphen moved into the 4 slot, putting him head-to-head with the Unicorn.

Through four games since Hollis-Jefferson assumed everyday duties as the starting interior forward for Brooklyn, the Nets and Knicks are 2-2 against one another, with both The Hyphen and The Unicorn exchanging wins, big-time performances, and mutual respect in battle.

On February 1 of last season, Porzingis registered 19 points and 12 rebounds against Hollis-Jefferson’s 16 points and eight rebounds in a 95-90 Knick victory at Barclays Center.

When the Nets, somewhat healthier with Jeremy Lin back on board, defeated the Knicks at Madison Square Garden, and again at Barclays four days later, Hollis-Jefferson was in rhythm at his new spot.

On March 12, Hollis-Jefferson had 14 points on 6-of-8 shooting and 11 rebounds in less than 24 minutes played. Porzingis had 19 points, 10 rebounds and five blocks in 34 minutes, but had an offensive rating of only 96 to Hollis-Jefferson’s 143, and went home with a 120-112 loss to the Nets in Brooklyn.

On March 16, the Nets won 121-110 when Hollis-Jefferson had 20 points and 10 rebounds in 25 minutes while shooting 7-of-12 from the floor and 6-of-6 on free throws. Porzingis did not play.

In their only meeting this season, October 27 at MSG, the Knicks blew out the Nets 107-86. Hollis-Jefferson had a non-descript six points and three rebounds to Porzingis’ 30 points and nine boards in only 29 minutes.

"Every match-up, every time we play against each other, we both make each other better,” Hollis-Jefferson said of the rivalry. “I feel like, going into it, it's competitive. I understand he's going to compete and play hard and he knows what he’s going to get from me, gritty, playing defense and vice versa, I know what I'm going to get from him. It just comes down to who’s going to compete harder.”

When asked if there have ever been trash talk between the two, Hollis-Jefferson smiled, as usual, and spoke of the healthy competition between the two, despite being eight inches apart in height.

"We give each other the look like 'yeah.’ There's not much talking. That's my guy though,” Hollis-Jefferson said, followed by a chuckle. “I remember I said, I think it was an interview on a podcast or something, I thought he (Porzingis) was mean. I thought he was a mean dude by just how he looks and, you know, the language he speaks is aggressive!” he added, laughing.

“I thought he was mean and I talked to him and then we kind of clicked. While I was doing that interview he walked in – I was like 'haa! speak of the devil - he didn't hear that part.' We just said 'yeah, we were talking about you, come on in!’”