When the Portland Trail Blazers signed Carmelo Anthony in November, it was one of the biggest stories in the sports world. After a little more than a year away from the game, the former scoring champion was back. But for all the hype and excitement, no one really expected all that much from the veteran. After all, his past two stints in the league were borderline disasters.
Through his first 42 games, however, he's proved just about everyone wrong. Obviously he isn't his old self, but he's provided a solid offensive boost for the Blazers, and more than proved that he still belongs in the league. His performance on Sunday night was yet another reminder.
Shooting a highly efficient 11 of 16 from the field, Anthony poured in a season-high 32 points and grabbed four rebounds to help the Blazers secure a 107-104 win over the Detroit Pistons. It was his first 30-point outing since he put up 37 for the New York Knicks back on Feb. 25, 2017 -- nearly three years and as many teams ago.
It helped that they were playing a Pistons team that has been one of the worst in the league this season, but this was a true throwback performance from Anthony. From the mid-range jumpers to the spot-up threes, he was cooking the Pistons. And to cap it all off, he drained a crucial jumper with 20.4 seconds left to push the Blazers' lead to four and help seal the win.
Many were skeptical this was going to work out, but you have to give Anthony and the Blazers tons of credit. This was exactly the type of performance they envisioned when they signed him, and he's had more than his fair share of big nights. Even at this point in his career, he's another player teams have to guard, and that takes some of the pressure off Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. And on nights like this, when Lillard was out, he can step up and take on a bigger role.
With this win, the Blazers are now 26-32 on the season and have climbed to within three games of the Memphis Grizzlies for the No. 8 seed in the Western Conference. They have their work cut out for them to make up that ground, but it's not an insurmountable disadvantage, and the prospects of one last -- at least -- playoff run for Anthony should provide plenty of motivation.