Knicks Notes: Toppin, Walker, McBride, Protocols

Knicks fans have been calling for Obi Toppin to get more playing time, but he put up disappointing numbers Friday in his first career start, writes Marc Berman of The New York Post. Replacing Julius Randle, who is in health and safety protocols, Toppin scored just five points in 27 minutes in a loss at Oklahoma City.

“The second unit, those guys play well together,’’ coach Tom Thibodeau said. “The big part of it is (Toppin) running the floor. When you have Alec (Burks), Derrick (Rose) and (Immanuel) Quickley throwing the ball ahead and getting those easy buckets, it gets you into a rhythm and easy scores. It’s his first game starting. You have to be ready to go. That intensity, you can’t ease into the game. You (have) got to go.’’

Toppin has shown improvement in his second NBA season, with his averages of 8.5 points and 3.9 rebounds per game roughly doubling what he did as a rookie. He has been part of a bench unit that has frequently outplayed the team’s starting five, and he believes he can succeed as a starter if given more time.

“This is the first time all of us have played together on the court, the stating five,’’ Toppin said. “We had to find a rhythm. With everything going on, with new people starting, new people coming off the bench, we all haven’t played with each other a lot.’’

There’s more on the Knicks:

  • Kemba Walker was a late scratch for Friday’s game after experiencing pain in his left knee, Berman adds in a separate story. Berman notes that the decision to hold Walker out was made during pre-game and it comes after he played both ends of a back-to-back this week. “He started his warm-up, and then he stopped,” said Thibodeau, who isn’t sure how long Walker might be sidelined. “And then (trainer) Anthony (Goenaga) was looking at him and just felt, let’s get him examined, and then we’ll go from there.’’
  • The loss of Walker led to the first career start for rookie Miles McBride, who learned of the assignment about an hour before game time, Berman notes in another piece“I wanted to step up and do the best I could,’’ said McBride, who exited the protocols earlier this week. “I’m still trying to get in a rhythm. The whole team is — with guys going down. It just happened like that. I couldn’t do a lot of thinking or reacting. I had to go with the flow.’’ 
  • The Knicks currently have two starters and three assistant coaches in the health and safety protocols, and Thibodeau tells Steve Popper of Newsday that the team is doing its best to adjust. “There’s nothing you can do other than follow the guidelines,” he said. “You want everyone to be healthy. You want them to be safe. That’s your first concern. Forget the basketball part of it, take care of it yourself.”
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