PORTLAND, Ore. — The Knicks continue to fall in the standings and improve their chances of getting a better draft pick. You could say it’s by design.
Playing the second night of a back-to-back, the Knicks held out Carmelo Anthony, Derrick Rose and Lance Thomas against the Trail Blazers. Rose left Wednesday night’s loss to the Jazz after hurting his right foot. The Knicks said Anthony had left knee soreness and that Thomas had hip soreness.
Left with 10 players — including five rookies — the Knicks fell behind by 23 points and lost to the Trail Blazers, 110-95, on Thursday night at the Moda Center.
It was the seventh defeat in eight games for the Knicks (27-45), who are a season-worst 18 games under .500 and have 10 games remaining. They own the NBA’s sixth-worst record and could wind up with the fourth-worst. The 76ers are 26-45 and the Magic is 26-46.
With the Knicks playing on consecutive nights and the games mostly meaningless, it was expected that the Knicks would sit some veterans.
Jeff Hornacek, who has said he wants to take a longer look at some of the younger players, started three rookies — Ron Baker, Mindaugas Kuzminskas and Willy Hernangomez — alongside Courtney Lee and Kristaps Porzingis.
Porzingis scored 18 points, Lee had 16 and Kuzminskas added 14. Blazers guard Damian Lillard had 30 points and C.J. McCollum added 20.
The Knicks were down by double-figures the last 38:32 of the game. “Defensively, we were tentative,” Hornacek said. “We didn’t get up on guys. They just passed it around. They passed it wherever they wanted. We didn’t put any ball pressure on the guy with the ball. And the guys that were coming off [screens], we were just letting them catch it.”
Rose said if it had been a playoff game, he would have taken some painkillers and tried to play. He wanted to give it a shot, but he said the training staff advised him to rest.
“The trainers told me it was a bad idea,” he said. “With the symptoms that I had, there was a chance I could re-aggravate it.”
X-rays of Rose’s foot were negative. He said it hurts to wear his sneaker but hopes he will be able to play Saturday night when this trip ends in San Antonio.
“I think it was smart,” Rose said. “I didn’t want to re-aggravate it and actually give myself a good chance for Saturday’s game.”
Hornacek said Anthony’s knee is “constantly flaring” in back-to-backs. He played 35 minutes in the loss to Utah. Hornacek also said Thomas “stepped funny” and his hip “kind of popped out.”