Rose's absence in loss a thorny issue for Knicks

New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis drives against New York Knicks centre Joakim Noah as forward Carmelo Anthony attempts to help out on defence at Madison Square Garden.
New Orleans Pelicans star Anthony Davis drives against New York Knicks centre Joakim Noah as forward Carmelo Anthony attempts to help out on defence at Madison Square Garden.PHOTO: REUTERS

NEW YORK • Derrick Rose's white No. 25 New York Knicks jersey hung from a coat hanger, pristine and unwrinkled. His peach bandages were unwrapped and unrolled, still in their place. His locker remained undisturbed.

Though the Knicks had taken to the Madison Square Garden court on Monday night, Rose did not feature in the 110-96 defeat by the New Orleans Pelicans in the National Basketball Association (NBA).

The league's Most Valuable Player in 2011 did not even appear at the arena for the game. No one knew where he was - or at least no one would say.

Just a few minutes before Monday night's tip-off against New Orleans, the Knicks tweeted only a terse announcement that "Derrick Rose is not with the team."

The team offered no word about where he might be. He had been with them at shootaround that morning but did not come for the game.

Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek gave no indication of Rose's absence in his pre-game press conference. After the game, he tried to deflect questions about the player but he did say the Knicks expected him to return.

"Right now we don't have enough information to really give you anything," he said. "So that's just going to have to wait until we hear something from Derrick himself."

Hornacek had also refused to be drawn on reports that team staff members had been unable to contact Rose.

"I'm not going to comment on any of that stuff," he added. "We expect him back, sure. It's just a matter of time."

Joakim Noah, a friend and longtime team-mate of Rose's with the Bulls, offered the only clear information: Rose was OK. Noah said that he had talked to Rose after the loss but he shed no real light on the guard's absence, later reported by ESPN to be due to a family matter.

The rest of Rose's team-mates were also kept in the dark.

"We don't know what's going on, obviously," Kristaps Porzingis said.

"I hope Derrick is fine. I have zero information about what's going on."

In Rose's absence, the Knicks (17-21) lost for the eighth time in nine games, while the Pelicans improved to 15-24.

Knicks forward Carmelo Anthony was ejected during a third quarter timeout, drawing two technical fouls for arguing over officiating.

Shortly thereafter, reserve centre Kyle O'Quinn was also 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. 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.

NYTIMES, AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on January 11, 2017, with the headline 'Rose's absence in loss a thorny issue for Knicks'. Print Edition | Subscribe