Obi Toppin received two thumbs down from Julius Randle and a zero score — as in zero points — when the Knicks’ 125-111 loss to the Pacers briefly transitioned into a dunk contest.
Toppin, the former Knick and perpetual high-flyer, returned to the Garden on Saturday for a second time after the Knicks traded the forward this offseason, and his most memorable highlight was actually a lowlight.
Early in the second quarter, Toppin intercepted a pass from Alec Burks and was all alone on a breakaway. Knicks fans had seen the moment dozens of times — a Toppin transition dunk that can seize momentum and electrify the Garden — but this one elicited laughs instead.
Toppin leapt, went through his legs and tried to slam it down with his right hand, but he did not get quite enough air on his jump.
He was rejected by the front of the rim, the ball bouncing off and bounding to Burks.
The crowd erupted, the Knicks’ bench exploded and Toppin soon had a wry smile on his face, shaking off the brief embarrassment — even if his Knicks friends might not let him forget it.
The home bench loved the moment, Randle grinning and flashing a double thumbs-downs at Toppin.
Toppin — who is having a solid season as a role player and is shooting a career-best 40.1 percent from deep in his first year away from the Knicks — finished with nine points on 3-of-5 shooting (including nailing his two attempts from 3-point range) with two rebounds and one fast break that he likely wants back. Toppin did not speak publicly after the game, leaving the visiting locker room quickly.
Toppin, the eighth-overall pick in 2020, was sent to Indiana this summer for a pair of second-round picks, but the Knicks literally are still his family.
The Knicks signed Toppin’s brother, Jacob, as a two-way forward this offseason.
Jacob scored his first NBA points Thursday, sat on the Knicks’ bench Saturday and will rep the team at next week’s Dunk Contest.
Obi, as electric a leaper as any in the league, won the contest in 2022. Jacob will have to fly a bit higher than his brother did Saturday to impress at this year’s event.