SAN ANTONIO — The Knicks sank to another low Saturday night.
With Carmelo Anthony missing a second straight game with what the Knicks are calling a sore left knee, they fell to the Spurs, 106-98, and dropped further in the standings.
The Knicks (27-46) now are looking up at the 76ers and are tied with the Magic for the second-worst record in the Eastern Conference. They’re also tied for the fourth-worst record in the league.
“Wow,” Derrick Rose said. “Very surprising. Even to have a losing record, period. I don’t want it to go on my resume. It is. If anything, it’s going to make me work hard and make us as a team look at it and prepare a lot better.”
It was the Knicks’ eighth defeat in the last nine games. Their magic number for being eliminated from playoff contention is down to two. The Knicks are 8 ½ games behind Miami for the Eastern Conference’s last playoff spot with nine to play.
The Knicks ended the road trip 0-4 and need to finish 6-3 to avoid a third straight season of at least 50 losses.
Kristaps Porzingis picked up three fouls in the first nine minutes and didn’t score his first basket until 4:05 remained in the game. He finished 3-for-8 and scored 12 points.
Rookie center Willy Hernangomez had 24 points and 13 rebounds. Rose, who returned from a one-game absence because of a sore right foot and said he was really sore after this game, also had 24 points. Mindaugas Kuzminskas added 19.
Kawhi Leonard led the Spurs (56-16) with 29 points and five assists. LaMarcus Aldridge and Pau Gasol each had 19 points and 10 rebounds.
After trailing by 20 points in the third quarter, the Knicks cut it to 78-74 at the end of the quarter, with Hernangomez scoring 13 in the period, and got within 83-80 with 9:12 left. The Spurs went ahead 96-84 on Leonard’s three-pointer with 5:55 left.
Hernangomez doing well. Hernangomez has exceeded expectations this season. Jeff Hornacek said “the initial plan” was that “he’d probably be in the D-League,” but he was never sent down. He made his 13th start and looks like a building block alongside Porzingis.
With Joakim Noah already sidelined for 27 games, the Knicks have relied on Hernangomez and will continue to depend on him. Noah has a 20-game suspension looming for violating the league’s anti-drug program.
“We thought he was a good player, but we didn’t know if he would get much time,” Hornacek said. “He’s proven from day one that he’s got a knowledge of the game. Through Jo’s injuries, he’s gotten opportunities to play, and he’s taken advantage of them.”
Notes & quotes: The Knicks’ best win was Feb. 12 against the Spurs, but coach Gregg Popovich said he doesn’t remember what happened in the game. “I haven’t given it any thought,” he said. “I’m a bad, bad coach.’’ . . . The Spurs’ Danny Green (North Babylon) was rested and did not play . . . Lance Thomas (sore hip) missed his second straight game.