Thunder faces vintage Carmelo Anthony in blowout loss to Trail Blazers
PORTLAND, Ore. — Melo, Melo, Melo.
Carmelo Anthony drove baseline. A pump fake sent Terrance Ferguson hopelessly into the air. Anthony lunged into Ferguson and finished the and-one. Chants of his name rang from the floor to the rafters at Moda Center.
Anthony caught the ball in the same baseline spot on the next possession. This time there were no tricks. He drove past Ferguson and finished with a two-handed slam.
Melo, Melo, Melo.
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The chants echoed until Anthony checked out with nine minutes to go in the Trail Blazers’ 136-119 rout of the Thunder on Wednesday night.
“I think people just see how genuine this is for me,” Anthony said after the game.
He wore a striped shirt with a line drawn through the word “limits" on the front.
“This is real love at the end of the day,” he continued. “I think people can sense when it’s not.”
Wednesday wasn’t an Anthony revenge game against his former team of one season. He and the Thunder parted on fine terms. More like an Anthony retro game.
Back from a one-year NBA exile, Anthony flashed all of the offensive tools that will land him in the hall of fame some day. Playing in front of the Portland crowd for the first time since signing with the Trail Blazers, Anthony scored 19 points on 9-of-11 shooting.
Thirteen of those points came quickly in 12 second-half minutes. Portland outscored OKC by 27 points when Anthony was on the floor.
“I loved the opportunity to guard him,” Thunder point guard Chris Paul said. “Melo is tough, tough. Especially in that mid-post where he’s built a career.”
Anthony embraced Thunder staff members as he walked through the Moda Center tunnels 90 minutes before the game. Before tip-off he hugged Steven Adams — one of three former teammates left from his 2017-18 season in Oklahoma City. There was an even bigger hug with Paul, one of his best friends, after the game.
Portland shot 10-of-10 from the floor to begin the night. The Trail Blazers scored 42 points in the first quarter, coming close to setting the wrong kind of Thunder record. In the Oklahoma City era, 45 points is the most the Thunder has surrendered in any quarter.
The Thunder gave up 41 more points in the third quarter as Portland put the game away for good.
Hassan Whiteside was dominant with 21 points and 16 rebounds. Rodney Hood was a perfect 4-of-4 from behind the 3-point line. Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum combined for 49 points on 56 percent 3-point shooting. The Trail Blazers made all 24 of their free throws.
But the night, as fans reminded with ceaseless chants, belonged to Anthony.
“He looks like he’s happy,” Paul said. “At the end of the day, he wants to hoop. And I think he’s getting a chance to show what he can do. Unfortunately, he did that tonight.”