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Knicks struggling without Derrick Rose

Knicks guard Derrick Rose (4) attempts a layup

Knicks guard Derrick Rose (4) attempts a layup as Detroit Pistons guard Dennis Smith Jr.  defends during the first half on Feb. 28, 2021. Credit: AP / Carlos Osorio

When the Knicks traded for Derrick Rose last month, it prompted questions about what role he would play and if it would stunt the growth of the rebuilding team. But in his absence, the Knicks are realizing just how important he is to any hopes for a postseason run.

Rose, subjected to the NBA’s health and safety protocols, has missed the last three games. The Knicks managed to beat the struggling Pistons in the middle game but dropped a 26-point decision to the Spurs and were humbled in a 33-point loss to the Bucks in their first game back from the All-Star break.

Just how long the team will be without him remains a mystery. Because of HIPA regulations, the Knicks have not disclosed a reason for his absence or how long he might be sidelined. He was held out of the San Antonio game after an inconclusive COVID-19 test, but after multiple negative tests, he was allowed to fly home with the team. Then he was forced out of action again the last two games, with no official explanation.

In 10 games with the Knicks, Rose is averaging 12.5 points and 4.9 assists in 24.6 minutes.

"Of course we miss Derrick," Taj Gibson said. "Right now, we’ve got to fight with what we got. Understand that he’s doing what he has to do to try to get back to us and recover. Right now, we’re just trying to hold down the fort. It’s always a positive when you get guys back.

"Right now, we’ve got enough to win. We’ve got a lot of guys in that locker room believing that we can go out there and win games. That’s the positive about this team. Everybody’s together. Everybody’s working hard together and everybody understands the stakes. We put the pressure on each other, but it’s a good kind of pressure. Looking forward to getting him back soon,

but until then, we’ve just got to hold down the fort."

In Thursday’s start to the second half, Elfrid Payton shot 4-for-14 with three assists and Immanuel Quickley shot 3-for-10 with no assists. The offense slogged through the game, with Julius Randle enduring his worst outing of the season. The Bucks put pressure on him and there often was no outlet for him to find.

Rose certainly has helped boost the offense, but in his absence a deficiency again has been highlighted. With Rose and Payton on expiring contracts, it also brings intrigue to the March 25 trade deadline. If the Knicks survive an arduous schedule to that point and remain in the playoff hunt, they might have to bring in help for Randle and the offense.

Gibson, the elder statesman of the team, was willing to push that aside for now.

"We were a step slow a little bit," he said. "We had a couple turnovers. But the coaching staff laid it out for us. We just didn’t execute on defense a couple times, a little bit rushed on offense. But it’s normal coming off a break, not really being able to get in the gym and practice as a team. We had a somewhat good practice [Wednesday]. We didn’t really get a long time to shoot. But this is the NBA. Everybody’s going through the same thing. We’ve just got to bounce back, keep focused and get ready for the next one."

New York Sports