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Knicks' Obi Toppin playing confidently and aggressively

Knicks forward Obi Toppin scores past Spurs guard

Knicks forward Obi Toppin scores past Spurs guard Lonnie Walker IV, left, during the second half of an NBA game in San Antonio on March 2, 2021. Credit: AP/Eric Gay

The play of rookie Obi Toppin is one of the few recent bright spots for the Knicks.

Toppin, taken with the eighth overall pick in the 2020 NBA Draft, brought the Knicks’ bench to its feet Friday night against Dallas with a putback slam over the top of Kristaps Porzingis and Luka Doncic. He shot 4-for-5 from the field and finished with nine points in 11 minutes. He also collected two rebounds and one steal and was a plus-five while on the floor.

He had eight points and was a plus-19 in the Knicks’ 125-81 win over the Pistons on Saturday night.

"I really like the way he’s been playing," coach Tom Thibodeau said. "He played extremely well in the first half."

Toppin’s play in the second quarter Friday was his best stretch in meaningful minutes. He had been struggling before that, at one point going six straight games without a point.

Toppin entered Saturday averaging 4.2 points and 2.2 rebounds; fellow rookie Immanuel Quickley, the No. 25 pick overall, was averaging 12.4 points.

Julius Randle loved the way Toppin attacked Dallas on Friday.

"It’s his confidence. I’m proud of him," he said. "He just looked aggressive and wasn’t worried about making mistakes. So that’s great."

Notes & quotes: The Knicks signed 6-10 Norvel Pelle to a 10-day contract, the team announced Saturday. Pelle has played in 28 games with Philadelphia, the Nets and Sacramento. Thibodeau said he wasn’t sure how much time Pelle will be able to see. "More situational," he said. "Our scouts really liked him, but right now it’s difficult getting a guy in this stretch because of the limited amount of practice time. But if there is a need, we are not going to be afraid to put him in."

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