When Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau turned to his bench in the second half Saturday, veteran guard Austin Rivers was not a part of the rotation.
Rivers has missed 12 of 14 shots and scored just 10 points over his past four appearances — including two misses from the field in Saturday’s first half — and he didn’t play after intermission in the Knicks’ 110-99 win over the Trail Blazers at the Garden.
“Just a coach’s decision. But we need everybody, so it was just the way the game was flowing,” Thibodeau said of Rivers logging a season-low eight minutes for the game, more than 16 below his average of 24.6 minutes through his previous 17 appearances this season.
Former Knicks star Carmelo Anthony missed seven of eight shots and scored a season-low two points off the bench for Portland, leaving him 11 behind Oscar Robertson for 12th place on the NBA’s all-time scoring list.
If the 36-year-old Anthony stays healthy and continues at his current scoring average of 12.6 points per game, he also has a chance to surpass Hakeem Olajuwon and Elvin Hayes this season to move into the top 10 in league history.
Knicks backup center Nerlens Noel missed the game with a sore left knee, so little-used big man Taj Gibson played 14 hard minutes off the bench.
“I don’t want to overlook Taj Gibson being ready to go. Nerlens [was] out and Taj steps right in and does a terrific job,” Thibodeau said. “He’s a great teammate. He’s always ready and when he’s not playing he adds so much to practice. He keeps everyone united and working hard. So his contributions to the team, all those guys who are not playing much, we can’t overlook that. It’s a critical part of the team.”
Mitchell Robinson had six points and 10 rebounds with just three personal fouls in 34 minutes, his most playing time in nine games since Jan. 18.