The most positive thing the Knicks can take out of their last two losses is the consecutive strong shooting nights posted by Obi Toppin.
The sophomore dunk machine connected a dismal 20 percent of the 3-point range to five out of seven tries from outside the arc in losses this week at Cleveland and Miami.
“I just feel like I trust the work I’ve put into it. All these guys, all the coaches, they believe in me, they trust me, and I just need to know what to do when I get in there,” Toppin said after scoring a team-high 18 points off the bench Wednesday in a loss to the Heat: “I put the work in and then everything falls into place.”
The 2020 lottery pick has played at least 15 minutes in three of the last four matches, after an eight match period in which he averaged just over 11 per match. While Julius Randle (minus-34) and the starting unit were destroyed by the Heat in the first and third quarters on both sides, Toppin also led the second unit with a team-best plus-20 rating for 21 minutes.
“I just know that when I come in the game I have to bring energy. I don’t want to mess it up,” said Toppin. “I go in, play my best and play with a lot of energy. We depend on each other. We have to all go out and do our job.”
Asked about his fan favorite and their calls for him to get more playing time from head coach Tom Thibodeau, Toppin added: “I’m not much of a social media guy…but Thibs, the coaching staff, they are great at what they do. So I trust them as well as all the other players in our team. We trust the coaches and whatever decisions they make for us, we have to live with it.”
The blowout in Miami allowed Thibodeau to get a comprehensive picture of recently acquired Cam Reddish, who played the final at 9:50 am and scored six points after not playing at all in Cleveland on Monday.
“At that point we’re in a pretty big gap, 30 behind, it’s just some game time for him and bring him out with that group and get a few minutes for him,” said Thibodeau. “So there was some benefit to that.”