Anthony Leads Blazers Past Hornets In Battle Of The Melos

by Casey Holdahl
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PORTLAND -- Trail Blazers forward Carmelo Anthony, now in his 18th season out of Syracuse, doesn’t mind that Hornets rookie LaMelo Ball often times goes by the same truncated version of his name, “Melo,” as he does. And it doesn’t bother Anthony that Ball also mimics his “three to the dome” three-point celebration, though his execution if a bit different.

“I embraced it, I’ve vouch for it,” said Anthony. “(Ball) can do it. He only do it one time, but he can do it... I blessed him, let him know he can carry it on.”

While Anthony surely means what he says, it is also much easier to be magnanimous after a win, especially one that breaks an extended losing streak.

The Trail Blazers set a franchise record with 72 points off 24 three-pointers, with six of those coming courtesy of Anthony, on the way to defeating the Charlotte Hornets 123-111 Monday night at the Moda Center.

“I liked the way that Melo stuck with it,” said Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts. “He got off to a slow start in the first half but he ended up making a lot of plays in the first half. And obviously his shooting in the second half really got us over the hump. I always like it, no matter who it is, but when Melo can get on a roll, it’s fun to watch.”

The Trail Blazers are now 19-14 overall and 9-6 at home this season. The win ends a four-game losing streak for the Trail Blazers and extends their win streak versus the Hornets to seven games.

Despite playing on two days rest against a team playing the second game of a back-to-back, the Trail Blazers found themselves down by as many as 11 points in the first quarter to a young Hornets team playing the fifth game of a six-game, Western Conference road trip.

But after turning the ball over six times, which the Hornets converted into 13 points, in the first quarter, Portland cleaned up their own mistakes and managed to provide more resistance on the defensive end after Charlotte shot better than 60 percent from the field through the first 12 minutes. And while their defense improved, both Anthony and Robert Covington started heating up. The forwards combined for 21 of Portland’s 32 points in the quarter, and with the Hornets going for 26, the teams went into the half tied at 59-59.

Portland started to pull away in the early going of the second half with a 9-2 run to start the third quarter and would eventually outscore Charlotte by nine in the quarter to take a 92-83 lead into the fourth.

And from there, Anthony would close the game out. The 6-8 forward hit back-to-back threes which, combined with threes from Rodney Hood and Nassir Little, comprised a 12-0 run that blew the game open for the home team early in the fourth.

Anthony would score 17 points in the quarter on 6-of-7 shooting from the field and 5-of-5 shooting from three, including the make with under two minutes to play that set the new franchise record for made three-pointers in a game at 24. Portland would shoot 58 percent from the field and 55 percent from three in the second half to outscore Charlotte by 12, the final margin of victory.

“We shot the ball extremely well tonight, everybody,” said Anthony. “When we shooting the ball like that, we a tough team. I can honestly say that gave us confidence, a lot of confidence, on the defensive end too. Getting back in transition, getting deflections, getting steals, getting stops when we needed to. It was a complete game for us tonight.”

Anthony led the Blazers with 29 points, though he also tied a career-best with five steals to go with three rebounds, two assists and two blocks in 32 minutes.

Covington didn’t miss a shot until well into the fourth quarter, going 8-of-11 from the field and 5-of-7 from three for 21 points to go with 10 rebounds, two blocks, two steals and two assists in 38 minutes. Enes Kanter also had a double-double with 11 points and 11 rebounds in 24 minutes.

Damian Lillard matched Anthony’s three-point production with six makes to finish with 23 points while also logging 10 assists, four rebounds and three steals. Gary Trent Jr. went 7-of-11 from 17 points and Nassir Little added 11 points, two assists and two rebounds in 19 minutes.

Ball led all scorers with 30 points on 10-of-18 shooting. Terry Rozier finished with 20 points in the losing effort.

Next up, the Trail Blazers have a day off before wrapping up the first half of their 2020-21 schedule with a back-to-back starting Wednesday night with the Warriors. Tipoff is scheduled for 7 p.m.


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