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'Anthony stayed Melo’: What they’re saying about Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony’s Trail Blazers debut

Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony turns down court after making a 3-pointer against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019.
Portland Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony turns down court after making a 3-pointer against the New Orleans Pelicans in New Orleans, Tuesday, Nov. 19, 2019. (Gerald Herbert/AP)

Baltimore native Carmelo Anthony played in his first NBA game in over a year Tuesday night after signing with the Portland Trail Blazers as a free agent. Wearing No. 00, the former Towson Catholic and Syracuse star and 10-time All-Star, now 35, started and played 24 minutes, finishing with 10 points on 4-for-14 shooting, four rebounds, five turnovers and five fouls and was minus-20 in a 115-104 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Here’s what experts and analysts around the country had to say about Anthony’s Portland debut.

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The Ringer — “The Clock Is Already Ticking on the Carmelo Experiment”: “... The version of Anthony that took the floor for the Trail Blazers on Tuesday was, essentially, what everyone probably expected when Portland signed him last week — an offense-first option whose effectiveness will rise and fall on the strength of his jump shot, who remains a concern on the defensive end, and who’s probably still Portland’s best choice at the 4 even after a year on ice. ... Ten points on 14 shots isn’t a strong start, but you’d be within your rights to chalk at least a couple of the misses up to ring rust, and to wonder whether Anthony got short-changed on a few calls when driving to the basket. ... For Anthony’s part, the mere fact of being on the court was enough for one night.”

CBS Sports — “Carmelo Anthony’s Blazers debut doesn’t look great on paper, but there were some encouraging signs”: “Melo haters are going to feast on that plus-minus number. It’s one game. It’s a flawed statistic to begin with, even more so in small samples. But it’s not nothing. ... Melo will become more familiar with the defensive schemes and rotations. Those things do take time. But that doesn’t mean Melo will get any better. There’s a lot of evidence, in fact, that says this is a pretty accurate representation of what we can expect from Carmelo’s defense moving forward. ... All told, Melo was pretty much Melo offensively. He still wants to take his mid-range pull-ups and post-up turnarounds, and it sure didn’t seem like anyone on the Blazers has urged him to reconsider his shot selection. The 3-pointers, again, were the most encouraging.”

USA Today — “One game not enough to determine if Carmelo Anthony can help Trail Blazers”: “Carmelo Anthony isn’t washed. He can still play. ... Anthony did what he has done throughout his career: he looked to score, was aggressive, revealed some quickness and relished physical contact as a way to create an advantage against his defender. He also showed some ability as the screener in pick-and-roll situations. ... Anthony’s reputation as a ball-stopper whose mid-range, isolation game isn’t suitable in today’s NBA has kept him out of the league for a year. He’s obviously better than some players who are in the league, but Anthony must be willing to adapt. ... If Anthony is truly willing to play a different, lesser role than he has throughout his career, it’s on [coach Terry] Stotts to find it and help Anthony succeed.”

The New York Times — “The Rebooted Carmelo Anthony: Same as He Ever Was”: “Carmelo Anthony came to shoot on Tuesday night for the Portland Trail Blazers. And then he shot some more, often from midrange. There was some Good Melo, like when he bullied a defender and hit one of his patented pull-up jumpers from just outside the foul line. There was lots of Not So Good Melo: bricked, inefficient shots combined with turnovers and fouls. But whatever it was, this was the quintessential Anthony experience. As the catchphrase associated with him might put it: Anthony stayed Melo. ... It’s easy to chalk up Anthony’s first performance to rust, but he didn’t actually look rusty. He was able to get to his spots — often posting up or in the midrange. He just couldn’t convert very often. ... What is clear is that Anthony is not going to fade into the background the way veterans like Vince Carter, Ray Allen and Andre Iguodala have done in their later years. ... He’s not one to be tentative on the floor. Good or bad, Anthony’s presence is to be felt.”

Fellow NBA stars also cheered Anthony on, including close friends LeBron James and Dwyane Wade.

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