The Knicks settled the age-old question of “who’s 11th and who’s 12th in the East?” with a road win over the Wizards on Friday night as Obi Toppin scored 35 points.

The New York Knicks (36-45) defeated the Washington Wizards (35-46) on Friday night by a final score of 114-92 to all but settle their place in the Eastern Conference standings. Behind a career night from Obi Toppin, starting in Julius Randle’s stead for the fourth consecutive game, the Knicks will finish in 11th place in the East, a hair from the play-in a year removed from the playoffs.

Despite “winning” what was surely a tank-off (Washington sat Kristaps Porzingis and Kyle Kuzma), the Knicks’ optimism surrounding their youth continued on Friday night with Toppin scoring a new career-high 35 points—connecting on six three-pointers in the process. Immanuel Quickley maintained his strong end-of-season play, having to enter the starting lineup in the second half after RJ Barrett departed with a sprained right knee.

The Knicks finished their road schedule winning five straight games, going 20-21 away from Madison Square Garden in 2021–22.

The first quarter couldn’t have started any worse for the ‘Bockers, who missed their first six shots while the Wizards hit their first four, taking an early 10-0 lead. The Knicks stabilized with an aggressive Barrett finding the rim and, despite shooting only 22.2% from the field, trailed by just eight points through 12 minutes.

New York’s bench cut into Washington’s early lead thanks to the veteran play of Taj Gibson. With Jericho Sims starting in place of the injured Mitchell Robinson, Gibson’s role off the pine became vital in limiting Daniel Gafford and Thomas Bryant on the glass. Evan Fournier, starting 0-for-3 from deep, hit his first three-pointer in the second quarter, and Barrett’s presence helped create a 20-point turnover, giving the Knicks a seven-point lead with help from Washington’s carelessness with the basketball and penchant for fouling the ‘Bockers.

Toppin finished the half with an improbably four-point play, giving New York a nine-point advantage at the half. Barrett and Toppin—the Knicks’ young leaders in the absence of Randle—combined to score 32 points in the first half on an efficient 61.9% from the field.

The third quarter put a deep dent into any chance of a Wizards comeback. While Barrett did not come out of the locker room after spraining his knee, the Knicks, guided by Quickley in the five-man lineup, picked apart what was left of the Wizards. Quickley connected from downtown three times in the quarter alone while orchestrating New York’s offense as Washington couldn’t score after three minutes. The Knicks led by 22 points after three quarters while still shooting 50.0% (11-of-22) from deep. New York combined to outscore D.C. by 30 points in the middle two periods.

The fourth quarter, a draw, saw more highlights from Quickley and Toppin (and Fournier, who finished 4-for-10 from deep on the night). The sophomore guard tallied double-digit assists for the second time this season—two games after his first career triple-double against the Orlando Magic. As the Wizards waned in spirit, Toppin put on the finishing touches with a sixth triple and an alley-oop by way of Quickley.

Some fans will be disappointed by the “win” on Friday, as the Knicks are locked around the 11th- or 12th-best odds for the first overall pick in the 2022 NBA Draft, but strides continue to be made by Toppin, Quickley, and Barrett, who finished with 14 points and three rebounds in 15 minutes after leaving the game at halftime.

Quickley notched 23 points, six rebounds, 10 assists, and two steals in 36 minutes off the bench. Toppin, the game’s leader in scoring, finished with a new career-high 35 points in 38 minutes, shooting 14-of-22 from the field and a miraculous 6-of-9 from deep. (And for the veteran report, starting point guard Alec Burks finished with six points on 1-of-9 from the field along with five assists.)

The Knicks shot 46.6% from the field, 41.0% from the three-point range, and 80.0% from the free-throw line. The Wizards, despite shooting above 50.0% from the floor, coughed the ball up 22 times, leading to 33 New York points. Rui Hachimura (21 points on 8-14 FG) stood out as the only Wizard with the knack.

The Knicks finish the season at the Garden against the playoff-bound Toronto Raptors. Former Coach of the Year Nick Nurse is known for heavy minutes on his starters, but we’ll see if there are some players held out in the season finale on Sunday night.




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