It would not have been a surprise if last year’s 10-game dud with the Rockets was the last time Carmelo Anthony played in the NBA. Still unsigned entering the 2019-20 season, Anthony went more than a calendar year before he was picked up by the Trail Blazers this month.
Expectations, then, were low for the 35-year-old forward. Portland hoped he could provide even a minor spark despite not having a productive season since his 2016-17 campaign as a member of the Knicks.
So far, Anthony has been much better than most thought he could be, and he continued his impressive run for the Trail Blazers on Friday with an efficient 23-point performance in a 107-103 victory over the Bulls. He shot 8 of 16, recorded 11 rebounds and dished four assists.
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Anthony’s highlight of the night was a touch-pass assist early in the fourth quarter, which brought smiles to almost everyone on Portland’s bench.
This team has now won three straight with Anthony in the lineup. He is a plus-50 across those contests.
A lack of team-oriented play and jarring inefficiency nearly kept Anthony from ever playing in the NBA again, and made his signing this year at first look like a desperate pity play for a struggling Portland squad. But right now, Anthony is shooting 46.2 percent from the field and fitting nicely alongside a group of Blazers that needed another scorer to succeed.
Six games into his tenure under coach Terry Stotts, Anthony appears ready to far exceed his production from the previous two seasons.