Carmelo Anthony said he was happy to be back on an NBA court for the first time in more than a year after making his Portland Trail Blazers debut.
Anthony smiled easily in a hallway outside the Trail Blazers locker room and asserted that he felt great after the first game of his 17th NBA season, even if his new team could not keep pace with Jrue Holiday, Brandon Ingram and a largely revamped New Orleans Pelicans squad that is showing signs of figuring some things out.
“It felt great just to be back into the flow of the game, be back on the court, be back to where I think I belong,” Anthony said.
“As far as conditioning, though, I felt absolutely great out there. There were minor things, but it was more of the flow of things, and getting used to how the team plays and sets and getting used to the guys on the team.”
Holiday had 22 points and 10 assists, Ingram added 21 points in his return from a four-game absence, and New Orleans beat Portland 115-104 on Tuesday night for their second straight victory and third in four games.
Anthony shoots a three-pointer during his Portland debut
Anthony finished with 10 points while Portland leading scorer and four-time All-Star Damian Lillard missed his first game of the season with back spasms.
Starting at forward and playing across the street from where he led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship over Kansas, Anthony wasted no time getting his first shot off. His miss from 20 feet came within the opening 30 seconds and was Portland’s first shot of the game. He scored the Blazers’ first points of the game on a three-pointer from 26 feet out.
Anthony missed 10-of-14 shots, but also had not even participated in a full practice, having joined the team the day after their loss in Houston on Monday night.
When Anthony tried to rise for a two-handed dunk in the first half, he was met with resistance by a member of the NBA’s rookie class when eighth overall draft pick Jaxson Hayes rejected the attempt in what was his second of three blocks.
“I thought he was going to try to lay it up,” Hayes said. “It just shows his passion for the game still. He is still trying to go dunk on people. Blocking it was pretty fun.”
CJ McCollum led Portland with 22 points, while Hassan Whiteside added 14 points and 14 rebounds.
New Orleans seized momentum in the third quarter, going up by 13 on a sequence that began when Nicolo Melli hit a three and then got the ball right back in a largely vacated Portland backcourt after Nickeil Alexander-Walker dived to swipe the ball away from McCollum. Melli went straight in for a dunk that made it 83-70.
Want to watch the NBA but don’t have Sky Sports? Get the Sky Sports Action and Arena pack, click here.