Damian Lillard had nothing but glowing praise for his teammate Carmelo Anthony after the Portland Trail Blazers’ 110-102 win over the Houston Rockets on Tuesday night. For the second time in a week, Anthony’s late-game heroics saved the Blazers and kept them in the playoff race.
After Anthony drained a three-pointer with just under a minute left, giving the Blazers some breathing room, Lillard wanted everyone to know how important Anthony was to their team.
"He understands what we need from him in certain situations, depending on how the game is going," Lillard said, via ESPN. "It's obvious to somebody like me that he pays attention to everything. I find it real funny and disrespectful how people speak on him. He's a Hall of Famer."
Carmelo Anthony, great teammate
A year ago, Anthony was nowhere. His disastrous 10-game stint with the Rockets ended with bad feelings and an eventual trade to the Chicago Bulls, who then waived him. He got interest from the New York Knicks, the Los Angeles Lakers, the Philadelphia 76ers, the Los Angeles Clippers and the Brooklyn Nets, but nothing ever materialized.
Anthony wanted to play, but he didn’t get the chance again until the Blazers signed him to a non-guaranteed contract in November, mostly out of necessity due to injuries. Despite all the chatter about Anthony’s recent past, Lillard said he was instantly a great addition for the team.
"When we got him, everybody had something to say about him: what he's going to do defensively, he's getting older, he's done, where's he going to fit in," Lillard said, via ESPN. "Everybody just had something to say: how he is in the locker room and all these things, why it didn't work out with these other teams. But he came to us, and he was just, like, laid back, good teammate, good for our younger players. On the floor, he's talking whether he's having a good or bad game. Just all about the team."
Lillard also talked about what a great teammate Anthony is, especially considering how much things have changed since his early days as a star. There’s no vanity, no clapping back, no pettiness. Anthony is just happy to have a chance to play, and Lillard says it shows.
"He's just not shy about it," Lillard said to ESPN. "He finds the spots that we need him in. He's not out there trying to play it like he's still in New York or Denver. He knows we need him sometimes to be on the weak side. He knows when it's time to do an isolation on the block. He respects coach when he might take him out before he's ready to come out. I just think when you see those type of things from a guy of his stature, I think it says everything to our team."
Anthony’s selfless contributions made the difference on Tuesday night. He helped the Blazers stay in the playoff hunt at 9th place, 1.5 games behind the 8th place Memphis Grizzlies with five games still to play. If Anthony keeps delivering when it counts, what seemed like a long shot for the Blazers could become a reality.
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