This was more like the Obi Toppin the Knicks thought they were getting.
The lottery pick is still working his way back after suffering a strained calf in the season opener, with Sunday marking just his fourth NBA game. But Toppin offered a glimpse of what might be to come, recording a career-high 12 points and five rebounds off the bench in the Knicks’ 105-75 win over the Celtics at TD Garden.
“Whatever coach needs me to do, I’m willing to do,” Toppin said. “Whatever’s going to help the team win, I’m willing to do. And I’m going to continue learning and getting better every single day. We have great teammates and great coaches around myself that are going to push me every single day to be great. And I’m looking forward to that day, for me to be great.”
Toppin shot 5 of 8 from the field and 2 of 4 from beyond the arc in 17 minutes, the most he has played since the first game of the season. He said his conditioning is “pretty good,” after missing 10 games.
“He’s done a really good job getting himself ready to play again,” coach Tom Thibodeau said. “In each outing he’s been better and better. And his defense is really coming on. He’s a really gifted offensive player.”
Toppin showed a strong connection with fellow rookie Immanuel Quickley, with the point guard feeding him on four of his five field goals, including an alley-oop.
Mitchell Robinson, who suffered a contused right heel Friday against the Cavaliers, got banged up again in the first quarter Sunday when he took a hard fall after blocking a 3-pointer. He said his knee got the worst of it, which showed as he appeared to still be moving gingerly when he returned in the second quarter.
“It’s all right so far,” Robinson said. “Just continue to get treatment on it and see if I can play through it.”
The Knicks are set to play the second half of a back-to-back Monday against the Magic on Martin Luther King Jr. Day, a meaningful game for Reggie Bullock.
“Using my platform, I have to bring awareness to a lot of social issues going on throughout America,” Bullock said. “I think it’s big for us playing that day. I’m very proud to be doing it, to be playing with my team and competing. The Knicks are a huge franchise. It’s great for us to use our platform and play for a great organization.”We play on MLK Day to continue to bring awareness to all the social issues going on in America right now.” We play on MLK Day to continue to bring awareness to all the social issues going on in America right now.”
Thibodeau left the door open for Alec Burks (sprained left ankle) to possibly return Monday after having a “good day” practicing on Saturday.
— Additional reporting by Marc Berman
Author : Greg Joyce