Basketball / NBA

Portland's Carmelo Anthony takes a new outlook to his new team

Trail Blazers fall to Pelicans in 'Melo's debut

AP

Carmelo Anthony had accepted the possibility that his NBA career might be over.

That seems to have liberated him to come back on his own terms when he signed with the Portland Trail Blazers.

“I came to a point where I was willing to accept it either way,” Anthony said after playing the first game of his 17th season with his sixth NBA team on Tuesday night. “I had to get myself mentally prepared for that and I did, to be honest with you.

“I stayed with it, but there was times where I didn’t want to. I wanted to just say, ‘Forget it, move on with my life, spend more time with my family.’ I started getting more comfortable with that,” Anthony continued. “I come into this game with a totally different mindset, totally different motivation.”

Anthony’s Portland debut — played across the street from where he led Syracuse to the 2003 NCAA championship — was not a triumphant one. He missed 10 of 14 shots, finished with 10 points, and the Blazers lost 115-104 in New Orleans.

But Anthony was in good spirits when he exited the locker room and stood in a hallway, patiently taking questions and often smiling as he spoke introspectively about the significance of his first NBA game action since his unceremonious departure from the Houston Rockets a year ago, after appearing in just 10 games.

“The greatest feeling of it all was to feel wanted by a group of guys who believe in me and my talent and what I can bring to the table,” said the 10-time All-Star, who has averaged about 24 points per game during his career. “It wasn’t just the players, it was the coaching staff. They showed a strong belief in me and what I can still do.”

He started right away, even before he’d participated in a single full practice with the Blazers. He joined them the day after they’d lost at Houston on Monday night, and approximately 72 hours after getting confirmation by phone that the Blazers were ready to sign him.

“That was something that was established from the gate, when we had that phone call: Let’s be transparent. That was a miscommunication over the last couple seasons over what my role would be and things that was expected from me, and that was a big point,” Anthony said. “There’s not nothing I won’t be willing to do, but just let me know up front. Whatever it is, just let me know, put it out on the table and let’s go from there.

“That was a big reason why I made my decision,” Anthony added. “It worked. I’m here. They had a vision. They had a plan and I was part of that plan. When it came down to it, I wanted to be part of that plan.”

Anthony said it was hard to tune out speculation over which teams might give him another shot during his year out of the game.

“It’s been a roller coaster,” he said. “There was one point where I told my agent: “Just let me know when it’s first and goal. Don’t call me when it’s first and 20.”

In the meantime, Anthony assured that he “wasn’t on the couch” waiting for a call, but continuing to train.

“Physically, as far as basketball goes, that comes easy to me,” Anthony said. “I still have to put the work into that, but it was more of a mental and emotional challenge, more so than a physical challenge.”

For the time being, the 35-year-old Anthony is steering clear of setting expectations.

“Who knows? I don’t think anyone knows what’s going to happen this year,” he said. “I’m here now. That’s what’s important. I could have still been home, right? So, Portland pulled the trigger. No matter what happens, I will always appreciate that.

“I have a new outlook,” he added. “For me, where I’m at, mentally, emotionally, the way I see things now, the way I approach the game, the way I approach this situation is more so me just having another different appreciation of just what this is and what the game of basketball brings.”

Lakers 112, Thunder 107

In Los Angeles, LeBron James became the first player in NBA history to record a triple-double against every team in the league, and Anthony Davis scored 34 points during the Lakers’ fifth straight victory.

James posted 25 points, 11 rebounds and 10 assists to boost the NBA-leading Lakers, who have won 12 of 13 after a perfect four-game homestand.

James is fifth in NBA history with 86 triple-doubles, but the four players in front of him — Oscar Robertson, Russell Westbrook, Lakers great Magic Johnson and Lakers assistant coach Jason Kidd — hadn’t done it against 30 different teams.

Warriors 114, Grizzlies 95

In Memphis, Alec Burks scored a season-high 29 points, Glenn Robinson III added 20 and Golden State snapped a seven-game losing streak with a victory over the Grizzlies.

Marquese Chriss and Eric Paschall added 17 points apiece for the Warriors. Draymond Green was just short of his 24th career triple-double with eight points, 10 rebounds and 11 assists.

Rookie Ja Morant scored 20 points for Memphis, while Dillon Brooks finished with 18. Brandon Clarke added 17 and Jae Crowder had 15 points along with 11 rebounds as Memphis lost its second straight.

Kings 120, Suns 116

In Sacramento, Bogdan Bogdanovic set career highs with 31 points and seven 3-pointers, and the Kings beat Phoenix.

Richaun Holmes had 20 points and 15 rebounds, Nemanja Bjelica scored 17 points and Harrison Barnes added 15 for Sacramento. The Kings have won four of five.

Devin Booker had 30 points, eight assists and five rebounds for Phoenix. Kelly Oubre Jr. and Mikal Bridges scored 20 points apiece.