Carmelo aims to knock off rust

At 35, for­mer NBA scor­ing star will face de­fend­ers a decade younger when he suits up for Trail Blaz­ers

The Peterborough Examiner - - SPORTS - BRIAN MA­HONEY

Plenty has changed since Carmelo An­thony last played an NBA game.

Zion Wil­liamson had just made his Duke de­but. Kyrie Irv­ing had said only a month ear­lier he planned to re-sign in Bos­ton.

There’s been turnover all over the league — in­clud­ing a block­buster trade be­tween An­thony’s last two teams that sent Rus­sell West­brook to Hous­ton and Chris Paul to Ok­la­homa City.

When An­thony joins the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers on Tues­day in New Or­leans, he will come to an NBA that’s much dif­fer­ent since Nov. 8, 2018, and he will try to show he still fits in it.

“I just look at that op­por­tu­nity, that team, and say, ‘Look, this is what I can bring to the team, this where I can help,’ and it will only work if all par­ties see it the same way,” An­thony said in a video posted Mon­day.

Plenty of fel­low play­ers think he can. A for­mer coach hopes he will.

“Hope­fully, this is a good sit­u­a­tion,” Hous­ton’s Mike D’An­toni said. “You never know why this didn’t hap­pen be­fore. For what­ever rea­son. Maybe he wasn’t ready. I hope it works out.”

An­thony had played 10 games for D’An­toni when his sea­son abruptly ended. An­thony hadn’t played ter­ri­bly, with three 20-point per­for­mances, be­fore the Rock­ets de­cided it wasn’t the right fit.

The three-time Olympic gold medal­list has kept him­self in shape by work­ing out with NBA play­ers, but go­ing from pickup play to NBA ac­tion is a ma­jor step. He’ll be try­ing to make it at 35 and will be at­tacked de­fen­sively by play­ers a decade or more younger — and he wasn’t a great de­fender even at their age.

But he’s a top-20 scorer in NBA his­tory and can per­haps pro­vide some needed punch to a Trail Blaz­ers team that is 5-9 af­ter los­ing Mon­day in Hous­ton, where the last team to give An­thony a shot had no com­plaints about his ef­fort.

“He’s a leader,” D’An­toni said. “There was noth­ing at all, not even a hint of him not do­ing what we asked or try­ing or all that. It was just for us, for what­ever rea­son, it just wasn’t go­ing to be a fit here.”

Maybe it will in Port­land.

Slump­ing Spurs

San An­to­nio has games this week at Wash­ing­ton and New York, a pair of last-place teams.

The Spurs aren’t much bet­ter than ei­ther.

Their los­ing streak is at six fol­low­ing a 117-110 loss in Dal­las on Mon­day that started a fourgame trip. At 5-9, San An­to­nio is off to its worst start since 199697, the sea­son be­fore it drafted Tim Duncan.

San An­to­nio hadn’t dropped six straight since late in the 2010-11 sea­son. The Spurs still won 61 games that sea­son, but that was with a vet­eran squad.

This one is much younger — its youngest ever un­der Gregg Popovich — with nine play­ers un­der 25. That means the Spurs, with a record-ty­ing run of 22 straight post-sea­son ap­pear­ances, have been in the play­offs al­most ev­ery year of their lives.

There’s plenty of time to turn things around and make sure that streak con­tin­ues.

Med­i­cal mat­ters

Glenn Rivers has joked that “Doc” is just a nick­name and doesn’t mean he has any med­i­cal knowl­edge.

The NBA doesn’t re­quire it, but it does in­sist that what he or any coach says about a player’s health be ac­cu­rate.

That was the les­son from the $50,000 fine the league levied on the Los An­ge­les Clip­pers on Nov. 7 for state­ments, in­clud­ing by Rivers, that were in­con­sis­tent with Kawhi Leonard’s health sta­tus.

Rivers es­sen­tially said that though Leonard was sit­ting out games, he was healthy. The Clip­pers de­ter­mined that

Leonard, who has missed three straight games with a knee in­jury, was ac­tu­ally hurt, and the league agreed that sit­ting him was al­low­able un­der the league’s rest­ing rules.

The league prefers healthy play­ers to play, and if not, wants them to rest at home. But Dal­las coach Rick Carlisle, the pres­i­dent of the Na­tional Bas­ket­ball Coaches As­so­ci­a­tion, said the Mav­er­icks got in no trou­ble when they sat Kristaps Porzingis on Nov. 9 at Memphis.

“We rested KP on the sec­ond night of a back-to-back on the road, but we went through the proper chan­nels to com­mu­ni­cate it to the league,” Carlisle said.

NAM Y. HUH THE AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

In this Nov. 3, 2018, file photo, Hous­ton Rock­ets for­ward Carmelo An­thony, left, drives to the bas­ket against the Chicago Bulls. An­thony is re­turn­ing to the NBA with the Port­land Trail Blaz­ers.

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