Derrick Rose wasn’t invisible in the New York Knicks‘ 117-88 season-opening loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday. After all, he scored 17 points in his regular season debut and helped the Knicks stay competitive — at least in the first half — against the defending champs on the road.
But Rose was a bit more rusty than you’d expect a former NBA Most Valuable Player who said he felt back to his old self this season.
New York’s star point guard committed four turnovers against the Cavaliers to just one assist and never looked settled into the offense.
Fast forward to Saturday’s home opener and Rose looked in complete control in the Knicks’ 111-104 win over Memphis. The 28-year-old guard acquired from Chicago did not turn the ball over against the Grizzlies and notched 13 points, three assists, two steals and a block in his Madison Square Garden debut.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek said having some practice time with his starting point guard helped build some missing chemistry on the roster.
“We looked like we knew what we were doing more often tonight. And that’s because we were able to have a couple practices with Derrick,” Hornacek told reporters after the Memphis game. “We feel like he’ll continue to get better and better as the season goes on. It’s the familiarity the guys have with each other. Knowing when one guy is hot. There are veteran guys who I like to have in the game. They wanted to go back to one play because they saw different options and things that could happen. And that’s where veteran guys come into play.”
Rose missed five preseason games attending a civil trial in Los Angeles. New York’s season opener against Cleveland was the first game the full starting lineup played with each other.
Rose said the biggest difference between the Memphis and Cleveland games was time spent with his teammates.
“Even though I was working out while I was in L.A., guys here, it’s a team sport,” he said. “So me being gone and them having to play with (Brandon Jennings), and me coming back and having to get used to the way that I play; that’s why early on, I was just trying to get a feel for the game and try not to force nothing the first game.”
Asked whether he felt the three days between games mattered, Rose said: “Yeah, I think so. Every day that we have to get better, that’s what we try to do. We have a veteran team. We have some young guys on the team, but you got some guys that have been in playoff battles before and I feel like we’re built for this. Certain guys that we have a certain confidence level where it really doesn’t matter, as long as we’re out there we’re trying to win and ball out.”
Added reserve big man Kyle O’Quinn on Rose’s impact on the game: “To me it’s amazing, for a guy to move that fast with the ball. And just to be a part of pick-and-roll action and see how fast he gets downhill. But for our team it’s big. We needed it. We the addition of him it helps, obviously it showed. I think that over the course of the season, it’ll take a little pressure off of a guy like (Carmelo Anthony).
Kristian Winfield covers the New York Knicks for Elite Sports NY. You can start the conversation on Twitter @Krisplashed.