Knicks’ Obi Toppin feels ‘comfortable’ with three-point shot

Obi Toppin throws pass on road against 76ers, blue jersey
Obi Toppin throws pass on road against 76ers, blue jersey

The Knicks snapped their three-game losing streak with a thrilling 106-104 comeback victory over the Philadelphia 76ers on Friday night at the Wells Fargo Center.

After their third-quarter struggles continued, the Knicks found themselves facing a 12-point deficit early in the final frame. With their big man, Mitchell Robinson, out with a knee injury and the offense needing a bit of a spark, Tom Thibodeau shook things up.

Thibodeau decided to go small and gave the Julius Randle and Obi Toppin front-court an opportunity. The unit certainly woke the Knicks up and took full advantage of their time to shine.

When Toppin entered the game he scored five straight points right off the bat to get the Knicks back in the game. New York then took off on a run, which saw them come storming back and eventually holding on for the tremendous come-from-behind victory.

In that final frame, the Knicks outscored the 76ers 32-21 to secure the win. With the Randle/Toppin front-court out there, they outscored Philly 29-14.

Thibodeau told reporters postgame that the coaching staff has been talking about using the Randle/Toppin duo if the opportunity presented itself.

“You have a grouping where if you’re behind at a certain point in the game, you’re going small to change the variance of the game to speed it up or get more three-point shooting," he said. "You can go with RJ or you can go with Obi, and the way Obi is shooting the three it gives us another three-point shooter, that’s a big plus. We’ve talked about getting the opportunity to do it and so if it presents itself, we’ll do it.”

Toppin finished the night with a season-high 17 points and three rebounds in 20 minutes. Thirteen of those points came during the fourth-quarter comeback, including a pair of clutch threes, the last of which gave the Knicks the lead for good with a minute and a half remaining.

So far this season, as Thibodeau said, Toppin has been outstanding from three-point land, shooting at a clip of 47 percent. During his postgame interview with the MSG broadcast crew, the youngster said that he feels really comfortable with his shot right now.

“It’s all in the work, trust the process, trust your work," Toppin said. "I feel like I’ve been shooting a lot of threes in the offseason and before the games, and I’ve just felt comfortable shooting them. So I’m gonna keep doing it.”

Thibodeau has certainly taken notice of Toppin’s rising confidence and the work he’s put in on his shooting.

“We see him shoot every day, I don’t think he’ll hesitate," he said. "He lets it go, which is exactly what we want and what we need from him. He’s a gifted scorer. He’s worked extremely hard on his shot. He’s always had the ability to run the floor, he’s a great finisher obviously, but he’s put a lot of work into his shot. He’s shooting the ball great.”

Perhaps we’ll see the Knicks turn to this duo again on Saturday night as they take on the Boston Celtics.