Granted, it wasn’t the best time for Derrick Rose to miss his first game of the season, but after a scare early Wednesday, the Knicks will absolutely take it. Especially if it really is only one game.
The Knicks, who could have used every weapon they had during their 126-94 drubbing at the hands of the Cavaliers Wednesday night, instead got a reprieve of a different sort when an MRI on Rose’s ailing back showed no structural damage. Rose, whose goal to play all 82 games in his first season as a Knick stuttered to a halt in Game 22, will travel with the team to Sacramento as the Knicks embark on a five-game, 11-day West Coast road trip that begins tomorrow night in Sacramento.
(For what it’s worth, Brandon Jennings did an adequate job backing up Rose with a game-high 16 points, four rebounds and three assists.)
“We think he’ll be fine . . . I’m sure he’ll get treatment tomorrow and hopefully with what the trainers can do, he wakes up two days from now and says, ‘Hey, I feel pretty good,’ ” Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said after the game.
Rose said all along that he wasn’t concerned about the injury, which he sustained in the third quarter of Tuesday’s game against the Heat, but Hornacek said before the game that lingering soreness required a closer look.
“Derrick is still having some back, some lower back issues,” Hornacek said. “He didn’t know how he was going to feel [after injuring it]. He got his sleep and then came in early, saw the doctors and did a lot of testing on him. He was still pretty sore so they decided, sort of precautionary, to make sure [with an MRI] before they get going with their other treatments.”
Rose’s injury originally was thought to be back spasms, and that appears to still be the case.
“I was trying to go up and had no lift on a layup,” he said after playing the Heat. “There’s nothing structure-wise that’s bothering me.”
What could be concerning, however, is that it might not only be his back: Rose said he experienced weakness all over his right side, including his leg. He’s also no stranger to injury. Rose has missed 228 games in the last five seasons, spanning back to 2011, when he won league MVP. The list of maladies include tears to his ACL and meniscus, and an orbital bone fracture. That’s exactly why playing all 82 games was such a big preseason goal. He’s averaging 16.7 points and 4.8 assists this season.
Wednesday night, Jennings pretty much performed like Hornacek expected him to, leading a Knicks team that otherwise didn’t have any bite to it from the outset.
Said Hornacek before the game: “I think the one thing with Brandon is that you know he’s never fearful in the moment.”