DENVER — The Knicks got Carmelo Anthony back against the Nuggets on Saturday night after he missed a game with a sore right shoulder.
Derrick Rose was another story, though.
Rose missed his second consecutive game and fourth in the last six with lower-back tightness. Rose’s injury has been described at times as “spasms” and “soreness,” but he said it’s the tightness that has him unable to play.
Rose hopes to return on Tuesday night when the Knicks host the Pacers at the Garden.
“I’m getting better every day, but I don’t want to take any steps back,” he said at the Pepsi Center before the final game of the Knicks’ five-city western swing.
Rose missed two games last week and returned last Sunday against the Lakers. He was fouled by the Suns’ Eric Bledsoe, fell on his back and re-injured it Tuesday night in Phoenix.
“I felt like the Phoenix game, I felt good, but it was just a freak accident, me falling on my back again,” Rose said. “With the days [off] after this, I’m going to have two days to actually get treatment before that home game against Indiana. I felt like those two days, I can really use them.”
Rose said he did not return too soon from his original injury, although he admitted he wasn’t 100 percent against the Lakers.
“I felt tight a little bit,” he said. “The Lakers game, I shot nothing but floaters. I didn’t get hit . . . I ended up falling on my back [Tuesday]. If anything, that’s why I don’t want to come back too soon and re-aggravate it or something. Any game I hate missing, but I have to be smart about it. I want to play consistent games instead of like playing one game, aggravating something, then missing two games. I want to play consistent games.”
Of the play against Phoenix, Rose said: “I couldn’t brace myself. I went for a lefthanded layup. I was kind of like twisted in the air. There was no way I could brace myself and I just ended up falling on my back. That’s the only thing I could do at the time.”
Brandon Jennings started in Rose’s spot and Ron Baker was expected to see time as Jennings’ backup. Baker played 22:55 at Golden State on Thursday night and scored a season-high 13 points with three assists in the Knicks’ 103-90 loss to the Warriors.
“It’s what we expected,” coach Jeff Hornacek said of Baker. “We know he’s a good player. He can run the offense. He’s not a prototypical point guard, but you saw the other night at Golden State he’s a guy that you wouldn’t think can keep guys in front of him, but he does a very good job of that.”
The injury news was better for Anthony, who took off Thursday night with a previously unrevealed right shoulder bruise. Anthony said the injury “totally” affected his shooting in the previous two games, in which he went 7-for-31, but he pronounced himself a go a day early for Saturday night’s game against his old team. He also called it a “must-win” because the Knicks wanted to end a two-game losing streak and finish the trip 3-2.
“It’s still a special place for me,’’ Anthony said. “I want to win regardless, but it still holds a special place.’’
Entering Saturday night, the Knicks had lost eight straight games in Denver, last winning in 2006.