Portland Trail Blazers: The Carmelo Anthony retribution tour continues

Carmelo Anthony continues to produce at a high level for the Portland Trail Blazers after being out of the league less than a year ago.

They said he was too selfish, too unwilling to adapt, and too self-absorbed to find a home in the NBA. After Carmelo Anthony got waived by the Houston Rockets 10 games into the 2018-19 season, many speculated that the forward would never return to the court in a professional game and that his career was over. However, the Portland Trail Blazers took a gamble on Anthony earlier this season, which has undoubtedly worked in their favor.

After brief stints with the Oklahoma City Thunder and Houston Rockets ended poorly because of Anthony’s lessened role, he embraced the opportunity in Portland with open arms. Taking a backseat offensively to Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum, Anthony shot career-lows in field goal attempts prior to the stoppage, but still provided the spark they were hoping for.

Heading into the restart, the 10-time All-Star averaged 15.3 points, 6.3 rebounds, and 1.6 assists per game on the season, showcasing that he could still be a viable contributor on a contending team. Every time that Anthony stepped on the court, it seemed like he was making one of those 29 other teams that passed on him regretful for doing so.

It was baffling that the future Hall of Famer could not land a job on any team throughout the association for so long, eventually taking the veteran’s minimum because he wanted to prove himself. At this point, it goes without question that he has exceeded the expectations for that deal.

If there were still any questions still surrounding Anthony, he put them to rest in Friday’s overtime thriller against the Memphis Grizzlies in their first real action in over five months. Coming in as the Western Conference’s 9-seed, the Blazers desperately needed this victory in their chase for the 8-seed, currently occupied by none other than Memphis.

Portland trailed early, struggling to create any momentum offensively. Anthony provided an electric spark for the Blazers, shooting an efficient 7-for-10 from the field, which included two three-pointers at the end of the final quarter to force overtime.

This rugged veteran squad for the Blazers outlasted the young Grizzlies with a 140-135 OT victory in the first of their eight seeding games. McCollum led the way for Portland with 33 points and Lillard with 29, but Anthony poured in 21 points of his own, sinking two free throws to clinch the game in the closing moments of overtime. The forward also added five turnovers and five personal fouls to his total, but at the end of the day, the good undoubtedly outweighed the bad for Anthony.

With this victory, the Portland Trail Blazers moved to 6-1 on the season when Carmelo scores 20 or more points, a number they hope to see ascend as they continue battling for playoff position. After defeating Memphis, Portland finds themselves just 2.5 games back of the highly coveted 8-seed, and have seven more games to claim it.

The “Carmelo Anthony retribution tour” is obviously not a legitimate movement, as the forward has just welcomed the chance to get back into the league. Still, it certainly seems like one as Anthony has had a monumental chip on his shoulder since his return. After the 36-year-old stated that he was nearing retirement from the NBA before the Blazers called him, he has taken full advantage of the opportunity to show that he still had some fuel left in the tank.

Hopefully, for Blazers’ fans, Anthony and the rest of the team can build some momentum from this performance and keep it going against the Boston Celtics on Sunday.