Carmelo Anthony returned to the New York Knicks' lineup Saturday against Denver after missing Thursday's game because of soreness in his shoulder. Derrick Rose, however, sat out because of lingering discomfort from back spasms. He has missed four of the Knicks' past six games because of the ailment.
Knicks coach Jeff Hornacek admitted the absence of Rose seemed to make a difference.
"It sure looked like it," he said. "Brandon has the ability to drive in there, too, but Derrick's finishes really draw guys into the lane and then where Derrick will kick out; Brandon will dribble out, draw it to somebody, but I don't think other teams are as concerned with Brandon finishing at the basket as Derrick."
Anthony scored 29 points on 10-of-14 shooting from the field against his former team but remained winless in five trips to Denver since he was traded to New York in 2011.
Anthony injured his shoulder in the first quarter of the Knicks' win over the Los Angeles Lakers last Sunday. He struggled with his shot that night and again in the Knicks' next game, an overtime loss against the Phoenix Suns, going a combined 7-for-31 from the field.
Anthony told reporters the shoulder issue was impacting his shot but that he feels healthy after the extended rest. He decided to rest the injury Thursday against the Golden State Warriors, missing his first game of the season. The Knicks are 0-11 in games Anthony has missed over the past two seasons.
It is unclear when the Knicks will have Rose back. The 28-year-old point guard has missed four of the Knicks' past six games, and portions of two others, because of the back spasms. An MRI determined there is no structural issue with Rose's back.
"It is stiff, he tries to get it loose and then it feels like it might turn into a spasm, so he doesn't want to really jar it or turn hard on it," Hornacek said.
The Knicks have taken a cautious approach with Rose, who has a history of serious injuries, though not related to his back.
Rose played in just 39 percent of games in the previous four seasons because of various injuries, including three significant knee ailments. He'd played in every game in his first season with the Knicks before suffering back spasms in New York's win over Miami last Tuesday.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.