For the first time in his NBA life, Carmelo Anthony wasn't a part of the starting five for an NBA game. After logging 1,054 consecutive starts in his NBA career, Anthony came off the bench for the Houston Rockets last night against the New Orleans Pelicans. He finished with with nine points on 3-of-10 shooting in 27 minutes in Houston's 131-112 defeat and, afterward, said he knows he has a long road ahead in adjusting to this new role.
"It's challenging mentally more so than anything, having to prepare for the game differently," Anthony said. "Other than that, it's a challenge all the way around. It's just a matter of how I'm going to react to that challenge and accepting that challenge, which I am, which I will do.
"For me, at this point, it's more about what I have to do for the sake of the team, instead of trying to just go out there and do whatever or trying to have a specific role. Every night will be different; but for the most part, it is a challenge, but it's something that I'll get used to quick."
As a member of the Oklahoma City Thunder last season, Anthony balked at the notion of coming off the bench and stood by that stance in his exit interview. His thoughts on that role changed when he signed with the Rockets in free agency this summer, telling Houston's coaches he was open to whatever role would best suit the team.
Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni said last night that he appreciates the sacrifice Anthony is making on behalf of the Rockets. Anthony's changing role reminded D'Antoni of the Los Angeles Lakers teams of the early 1980s -- and in particular, of Bob McAdoo. In 1981, the Lakers added the former MVP winner McAdoo via a trade. A future Hall of Famer, McAdoo willingly accepted a reserve role and was a key part in the Lakers' rotation during their "Showtime" Finals runs and on their NBA title teams in 1982 and '85.
"I know it's not the ideal situation for [Anthony], because he's a Hall of Famer and all that," D'Antoni said before Wednesday's game. "I know it's a big adjustment, but you know what? He's true to his word. He said he'd do anything for the team. We think that's best today. It might not be best later -- we don't know -- but having him is something that we didn't have last year. Obviously, it's really good.
"I know it's tough. We appreciate him doing it and trying to help us win a championship."
All that said, it was a rough outing for Anthony as he was held to single-digit scoring in a season opener for the first time in his career.
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