Carmelo Strengthens Case As Best Closer Of His Generation With Game-Winner In Toronto

by Casey Holdahl
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TORONTO -- After 17 seasons in the NBA, it's reasonable to assume Carmelo Anthony might be concerned that he's running out of time. And after sitting out almost the entirety of the 2018-19 season, Anthony likely wondered if his time was up before the Trail Blazers signed him as a free agent in November.

But Tuesday night in Toronto, Carmelo wasn't worried about running out of time as CJ McCollum passed him the ball at the top of the three-point line in a tie game with roughly six and a half seconds to play, he was worried their might be too much of it.

"I thought CJ gave it to me too early," joked Anthony, though considering how many times in his career he's found success in those situations, it's hard to blame McCollum for wanting to get the ball in his hands as quickly as possible.

According to STATS Inc, Carmelo has 26 game-winning field goals in the final 30 seconds of the fourth quarter or overtime that gave his team the lead for good over the course of his career, which is the most of any player since 2003-04. More than Kobe Bryant (22), LeBron James (20), Dirk Nowitzki (18) or Dwyane Wade (18).

"We've seen it before," said Damian Lillard, one of the NBA's preeminent late-game closers. "A guy with his type of ability, it's just a matter of opportunity. He had one guy guarding him, he got to his spot and once he got to his spot and I saw him raising up, I thought it was going in."

What's more, according to ESPN Stats, Anthony now has 17 go-ahead field goals in the last five second or the fourth quarter or overtime, the most of any player since he entered the league and one more than Kobe Bryant.

So even though he might have preferred for McCollum to deliver the ball another second or two later, he's still hungry for those late-game moments.

"It’s something that I will always embrace, embrace those moments and love those moments," said Anthony, who finished Tuesday's game with a season-high 28 points on 10-of-17 shooting. "Whenever you get a chance to have a moment like that, you have to take advantage of it. Throughout my career I’ve always been the guy that would take those shots and made a ton of them and missed a lot of them as well, but you just have to be willing and step up to take them."


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