Obi Kadobi ! Knicks Win 1st Preseason Game of 2020-21

It was only the 1st preseason game — but the Knicks looked Good. Obi Toppin — the #8 pick in the draft — looked awesome in the 1st quarter when he came in — quick and aggressive — posting left or right — and driving baseline or to the middle of the lane for short jumpers; passing well; slam dunking the ball. Lighting up Knicks Twitter with superstar and Rookie of the Year candidate talk.

And Kevin Knox, the high pick from 2 years ago, played well in the 1st quarter as well — aggressive and athletic and teaming with Obi.

Unfortunately (at first) last year’s elite pick, RJ Barrett, started off ice cold — missing his first 5 shots, some of them badly. But then Barrett got into groove, and was terrific too. He finished the night as the Knicks’ leading scorer — 15 pts on 7-16 shooting (0-4 from 3).


And then there was Tom Thibodeau, who was the real reason the Knicks won this game. The Knicks showed the Defense of a Thibodeau coached team. The game was close at the half and then the Knicks DUG IN during the 3rd quarter and before you knew it had an 18-point lead. Elfrid Payton led the Knicks charge in the 3rd, on offense and defense.

Detroit got closer in the 4th — pulling to within 6 points with just over 3 minutes left. But RJ Barrett hit a big bully ball basket with 2:09 left — missing a driving layup but getting his own offensive rebound and putting it back in, and then Julius Randle hit a big shot with 33 seconds left to ice it.

The Matchup of High Draft Picks — Hayes vs Toppin

In the game within the game — Killian Hayes — the guard who Detroit picked in the draft just before the Knicks picked — was 2-7 (0-3 from 3) for 5 pts in 21 minutes, a -5. Meanwhile Toppin was a star in this game. Some media outlets predicted the Knicks would want to pick Hayes during the summer, but as days got closer to the draft it became clear the Knicks had their eyes on Toppin and were happy he fell to them at #8. Reports before the draft were that the Knicks were looking to trade up to get Cleveland’s #5 pick just to get Obi.

At Center

Mitchell Robinson played well in the second half especially — blocking shots and grabbing the ball out of the air for steals — he ended with 4 steals and 2 blocks. But Mitch only took 2 shots, finishing 0-1 with 2 points on free throws, in 22 minutes off the bench. Nerlens Noel started, and played well as well — 25 minutes, 5-7 shooting, 8 rebounds, and 2 blocks. Robinson had 4 fouls; Noel 3. Since both are shot blockers (who tend to pick up fouls) — you can see the Knicks did well with the strategy of adding Noel to the team — between the two of them they have 12 fouls to give, and meanwhile give the Knicks tremendous defense at the center position at all times.


Dennis Smith Jr looked terrific when he came off the bench in the 1st quarter. Frank Ntilikina also played well, and was in the game at the end with the starters.

The Boxscore


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