The Portland Trail Blazers need Carmelo Anthony to hit shots. He did just that on Thursday. Philadelphia were put to the sword by a string of makes from the future Hall of Famer.
At just 39% from the field on the season, Anthony has not delivered at the level Portland hoped for when they re-signed him. He needs to be better.
Against the Sixers, though, Portland got the best of Carmelo. He scored 19 second half points on seven-for-nine from the field. It was exactly what Terry Stotts required as Ben Simmons locked up Damian Lillard, and it led the Blazers to yet another improbable win. Portland has improved to 14-10 on the season despite missing Jusuf Nurkic, Zach Collins and CJ McCollum.
This was the fourth time in five games that Anthony scored 20 or more points. It was the most efficient in that run, though. It was his best three-point shooting night of the season. There were moments of Vintage Melo, draining contested shots, leaving defenders in despair.
Lillard needs Melo
Portland is 6-1 when Anthony scores 18 or more points. Such statistics are hardly ground-breaking, but it shows how much they benefit from his scoring. With Joel Embiid keeping Enes Kanter relatively quiet, and with Robert Covington and Derrick Jones Jr limited offensively, Lillard needed help. Gary Trent Jr more than played his part. Anfernee Simons made some shots. Anthony, though, was the one who took the game by the scruff of the neck. There was nothing Philly could do.
It’s still unclear when McCollum and Nurkic will return. McCollum is set to be re-assessed next week. Even before then, Portland has big games to play. It’s Cleveland, Dallas, Oklahoma City and New Orleans in the next five days. They are all very winnable games, but only if Lillard gets assistance from his teammates. Efficient production from Anthony will go a long way to winning three or four of those games.
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