NEW YORK (AFP) - New York point guard Derrick Rose was a mysterious no-show at Madison Square Garden on Monday, and that was just one of the Knicks' problems in a 110-96 National Basketball Association defeat by the New Orleans Pelicans.
The Knicks started Brandon Jennings at point guard instead of Rose, the team tweeting only a terse announcement that "Derrick Rose is not with the team".
Coach Jeff Hornacek had given no indication of Rose's absence in his pre-game press conference. After the game, he tried to deflect questions on Rose, saying the team did not have enough information to discuss the matter.
"Right now, we don't have enough information to really give you anything," Hornacek said, trying to head off questions. "So that's just going to have to wait until we hear something from Derrick himself."
Hornacek refused to be drawn on reports that team staff had been unable to contact Rose.
"I'm not going to comment on any of that stuff," he said. "We expect him back, sure. It's just a matter of time.
"We want to respect whatever he's going through, and we're just not going to comment on it."
The 28-year-old Rose, the 2011 NBA Most Valuable Player with the Chicago Bulls, has been effective in his first season with the Knicks.
He has averaged 17.3 points in 33 games, missing a few earlier this season with back spasms.
In October, a judge in Los Angeles dismissed a civil lawsuit against Rose brought by a woman who claimed she had been gang-raped by the player and two friends in 2013.
In Rose's absence, the Knicks lost for the eighth time in nine games.
Star forward Carmelo Anthony was ejected during a third-quarter timeout, drawing two technical fouls for arguing over officiating.
Shortly thereafter, Knicks reserve Kyle O'Quinn was ejected for a hard foul that sent Pelicans star Anthony Davis flying into courtside seats along the baseline.
Davis, who scored a game-high 40 points, made both free throws to stretch New Orleans' lead to 87-63, but left the game with a hip injury.
Hornacek acknowledged that frustration over the Knicks' recent struggles may have contributed to the ejections.
"Possible," he said. "I think some of that goes by thinking they should get a couple of these calls, so that sometimes gets to you as a player, gets to you as a coach."
The Knicks left the court to boos from their home fans - which had started well before the end of the game.
"It was just a tough night for us," Hornacek said.