The most positive thing the Knicks can take out of their last two losses has to be the consecutive strong shooting nights posted by Obi Toppin.
The second-year dunk machine had been connecting on a dismal 20 percent from 3-point range until nailing five of seven attempts from beyond the arc in losses this week in Cleveland and Miami.
“I just feel like, trusting the work that I put in. All these guys, all the coaches, they believe in me, they trust me, and I just got to know what I’ve got 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 everything is going to fall into place after that.”
The 2020 lottery pick has played at least 15 minutes in three of the past four games, following an eight-game stretch in which he averaged slightly more than 11 per game. While Julius Randle (minus-34) and the starting unit were destroyed at both ends in the first and third quarters by the Heat, Toppin also led the second unit with a team-best plus-20 rating over 21 minutes.
“I just know when I get into the game, I have to bring energy. I don’t want to mess up,” Toppin said. “I go in, play my hardest and play with a lot of energy. We depend on each other. We all have to go out and do our job.”
Asked about being a fan favorite and their calls for him to receive more playing time from head coach Tom Thibodeau, Toppin added, “I’m not really a social media guy … but Thibs, the coaching staff, they’re great at what they do. So I trust them as well as all the other players on our team. We trust the coaches and whatever decisions they have for us, we’ve got to live with it.”
The blowout loss in Miami enabled Thibodeau to get an extended look at recently acquired Cam Reddish, who played the final 9:50 and scored six points after not playing at all Monday in Cleveland.
“At that point we’re in a pretty big hole, down 30, it’s just get him some playing time and get him out there with that group and get some minutes for him,” Thibodeau said. “So there was some benefit to that.”