Let’s put something to rest. Obi Toppin is a top-five player from his 2020 draft class. Sure, Anthony Edwards, LaMelo Ball, Tyrese Haliburton, and Tyrese Maxey are very good. But who the hell else would you rather have than Toppin? And please don’t say, Desmond Bane. If Toppin averaged the 30 minutes a game Bane got and was a focal point of the offense, he would be right there with Bane’s statistics. I’m talking about ceiling. Potential. Natural ability. Toppin is a one-man fast break. It’s a damn Thibodeau shame he’s been rotting on the bench for so long behind the Knicks' most malcontent misanthrope.
The Knicks fan contingency was loud and proud tonight, overwhelming any, Magic faithful. They chanted Obi Toppin and RJ Barrett at multiple parts of the second half. By the middle of the third quarter, Toppin had eclipsed his career-high, set last game, with 20 and 7. He was abusing any Magic defenders coach Jamahl Mosley threw at him with an arsenal of caught lobs, jab steps, three-pointers (4-10), and fast-break jams where he handled the ball more than ever, even walking it up the court to set up the offense, a la Randle.
But it wasn’t just Randle RJ Barrett who returned to form and took his match-up with former Knick, Ignas Brazdeikis, seriously. Brazdeikis played well himself. Barrett has really turned a corner driving to the hoop. He’s always had the moxie of a good penetrator but failed last two seasons to finish under contact. This is the case no longer. He dropped 27 and shot 8-19 from the field.
Immanuel Quickley was the true star of the show, earning his first triple-double with 20 points, 10 assists, and 10 rebounds off the bench. The second-youngest Knicks to ever tally a triple-double, and the third Knick to earn one this season after Julius Randle and Kemba Walker. I wish Thibodeau would dedicate an entire post-game press conference to explain to us idiots in the press what Alec Burks brings to the table that Quickley is unable to. Not to say Burks wasn't great. He brought a +40 plus/minus, but did nothing spectacular to pin him as the consistent starter, night after night. Especially now that the Knicks are eliminated from the playoffs.
Tonight marked the first time the Knicks held a 35 point lead over an opponent. They played harassing d on the perimeter, driving the Magic to shoot poorly from there at 12/44 while crashing the boards for a 56-40 advantage. This was mostly in part to Mitchell Robinson, who matched his 2 rebound total from the last game in the first three minutes of the game. He finished with 12 and 10.
This game might have screwed up our tanking chances at a slightly better Lottery pick, but screw it. This one was fun as hell.