Carmelo Anthony steps up for Lakers in LeBron’s absence in win over Trail Blazers
Carmelo Anthony said he couldn’t explain the zone he found himself in to start the game for the Lakers, when every time he raised up for a shot, it went down, when he started the game by making all five of his shots and all three of his three-pointers.
By the end of the 99-94 victory over the Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday night at Crypto.com Arena, Anthony had gone eight for 12 from the field, including five for six from three-point range, in scoring 24 points.
“Everything feels like it’s aligned,” Anthony said. “And it’s not just in the game. I mean, the whole day just felt, just, I was floating today. I don’t know why. But it was just one of those days. You wake up, you feel good. Maybe I’m rested from the long road trip. That could have helped too. But also understanding the implications of our games now, that we have to step up and we have to go try to win these games.”
The play that got the biggest notice was when he received a lob pass from Russell Westbrook in the fourth quarter and dunked the ball.
The Lakers defeated the Portland Trail Blazers 99-94 behind Anthony Davis’ 30 points and 15 rebounds on Wednesday at Crypto.com Arena.
Anthony, a 19-year NBA veteran, was asked about that play.
“I’m not supposed to be able to jump no more? That’s what they say, right?” Anthony said, laughing. “I don’t know. I just play basketball, man. Whatever it is, if it’s a lob, or a bounce pass, whatever it is, I just try to go get it, but that’s something I’ve been doing probably my whole career, that spin lob. So it’s just a matter of having that connection with Russ, or whoever’s throwing that pass.”
With LeBron James out nursing a sore left knee, Anthony was asked whether his role changed and if he had become more vocal.
He was seen speaking up on defense. He was seen talking in the huddle. He was seen talking on the court to his teammates and the officials.
“Nah, my role does not change, regardless of who’s here, who’s not. My role doesn’t change,” Anthony said. “I’m still the same vocal guy out there on the court, locker room. I’m still the same guy. I know the roles may change a little bit on the court, but outside of that, I’m still the same person whether Bron is here or not.
“I still have to be that vocal guy. I still have to be the guy who talks out there, the guy who watches film with the guys. Just being me. I don’t think I can change that.”
The Times’ NBA reporters discuss the state of the Lakers and Clippers before their game Thursday, with the trade deadline and All-Star break looming.
Lakers’ free-throw shooting need work
The opportunity was there for the Lakers to close it out, to put the finishing touches on Portland, but L.A. was rocky at the free-throw line and that made for a tough ending.
The Lakers shot 63.2% from the line in the fourth quarter, going 12 for 19.
Anthony Davis made five of eight free throws in the fourth quarter and 10 of 14 in the game. He made one of two to give the Lakers a 95-89 lead with 52 seconds left.
Then Anthony made one of two for a 96-91 lead. Davis followed that by splitting a pair for a 97-91 lead.
Malik Monk missed two free throws with 15.6 seconds left, opening the door for the Trail Blazers, who trailed 97-93.
But after CJ McCollum made just one of two free throws, Monk made two with 0.9 seconds left for the final score.
“I think we’re in the bottom half of the league as far as free-throw shooting,” Davis said.
Davis is right. Coming into the game they were ranked as the third-worst free-throw shooting team in the NBA, making 73.5%.
“That’s how you win and lose games,” Davis said. “If we would have lost tonight, that would have been the reason.”
Road-weary and each hovering near .500, the Lakers and Clippers arrive for their meeting Thursday at Crypto.com Arena in much the same position.
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