The crowd at the Capital One Arena chanted “OBI TOPPIN” for good reason. The electrifying power forward set another career-high last night, finishing with 35 points and leading the Knicks (36-45) to a 114-92 win over a depleted Washington Wizards (35-46) squad in New York’s final road game of the season. When he sat with 51 seconds left, the DC fans gave our springy sophomore a standing ovation. Of course they did.
Toppin is a dervish of basketball joy, the kind of guy you can’t help but root for no matter what team he plays for. A positive attitude, humility, and constant motor will garner a lot of love from fans, and it bums me out that Julius Randle, presumably nursing his quad at home, seems incapable of learning this lesson from his understudy.
Their quest against Rui Hachimura and a cast of reserves wasn’t all giddy glory for the Knickerbockers. A scary moment occurred when RJ Barrett went down with a knee sprain in the second quarter. He tried to play through it but soon after hobbled to the locker room. According to Thibs, RJ will be re-evaluated tomorrow and miss Sunday’s season finale.
Anyway, you wanted the Knicks to tank and improve their lottery odds, but since when does Thibs give you what you want? You’ll get a win, and you’ll like it, punk.
In fact, the Knicks didn’t look so competent to start this one. They spotted the Wiz 10 points before scoring their first points. After that, though, the Obi gas pedal was pressed to the floor and Washington dined on his dust. Here the star of the game gets a four-point play:
RJ Barrett played fifteen minutes before leaving the game with his sprained knee in the second quarter. The Maple Mamba had 14 points on 6-for-10 shooting before the exit.
Obi deserves the flowers, but Immanuel Quickley was ferocious. He, too, gave us a brief scare with a knee tweak in the first half but played on and finished with 23 points and 10 assists in 36 minutes and shot 9-18 from the floor. Quickley, who grew up in Maryland, had family and friends on hand to watch some sweet action like this.
Quick wanted in on the action ☔️ pic.twitter.com/vwhephd812— NEW YORK KNICKS (@nyknicks) April 9, 2022
The Knicks were up 59-50 at the half. They stretched the lead to as many as 26 after intermission. Washington had no answer and looked like a G-League squad without Beal, Kuzma, Porzingis, etc.
And here’s Taj:
Playing for a still-ill Mitchell Robinson, Jericho Sims chipped in six points, nine boards, and three dishes in 34 minutes. No, the numbers don’t pop off the screen, but he went 4-for-4 from the line. A center made free throws for New York! Little things like that sustain me these days. And stuff like this:
In some rare action, Ryan Arcidiacono took a Raul Neto elbow to the nose and the beak looked broken to me, but he came back in the fourth quarter and tallied up 13 minutes of actual game time. Gotta love that grit.
Sure, the Knicks were supposed to lose one for the lotto balls, but I can’t help feeling happy when they win. Thanks to Airfeet for the quote. Back to the Garden on Sunday for the final tilt of the year. Safe travels, Knickerbockers.
- Rui Hachimura had 18 points at halftime and finished with 21 to lead the Wizards.
- Toppin’s final line: 35 points and four rebounds on 14-for-22 from the field and 6-for-9 from three. Played 38 minutes.
- The Knicks have won five straight road games. The club hadn’t won five consecutive road games since 2013.
- Feron Hunt, the rookie out of SMU, saw his first NBA minutes at the end of this one. Thibs freed him from the bench at 1:50. Makes sense—why would you rest your rotational guys and give Hunt more time when up by a bunch in a meaningless game? Right?
See you Sunday, gang. Peace.