The Los Angeles Lakers desperately needed a win, to get the monkey off their backs after a winless preseason and two straight losses to open the year. And in a thrilling contest against the upstart Memphis Grizzlies, they managed to do just that, hanging on to the lead after a missed Ja Morant free throw that would have tied the game with just a few seconds left. On a team loaded with superstars, it was their oft-forgotten veteran teammate who became the story in the massive win. It was Carmelo Anthony who scored an efficient and explosive 28 points, flashing his signature “three to the dome” celebration six times to the delight of a raucous Staples Center crowd.
Ladies and Gentlemen: Carmelo Anthony pic.twitter.com/eM4NweC3b3
— Los Angeles Lakers (@Lakers) October 25, 2021
Anthony’s stellar performance came on a night when he passed Moses Malone for ninth place in all-time NBA scoring, prompting head coach Frank Vogel to say “He didn’t crawl up that milestone. He blew the doors off of it.”
“What better night to reach ninth than with a win, the way that we needed to win tonight,” Carmelo said to reporters after the game. “Overall, it was a hell of a night.”
That long experience of being one of the best scorers the NBA has ever seen is a big part of why the Lakers acquired him. Even with all of the limitations that he has, especially on the defensive end, the ability to go off for one game or even one quarter is invaluable for a team with championship aspirations.
Doing so in a packed Staples Center that has already embraced the player that the organization had pursued for years was just the cherry on top for Melo’s special night.
“You know being here in LA, the way that the fans embraced me, knowing the battles that I’ve had in here, in LA against the Lakers over the years. And again, this happened in year 19 [of Melo’s NBA career]. For these fans to embrace me the way that they’re doing, I gotta keep going. That keeps me motivated, knowing that I have a supporting cast the way that I have with the fans.”
"To be on that list and pass Moses, it's hard to put into words." @carmeloanthony on moving into 9th on the NBA's all-time scoring list and feeling so welcomed by the #Lakers & its fans. pic.twitter.com/ylzfxAfiA8
— Spectrum SportsNet (@SpectrumSN) October 25, 2021
Melo’s impact seems to be extending off the court where Anthony Davis credited him for constantly being in the young star’s ears and giving advice as much as his more predictable veteran counterparts, LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, and Rajon Rondo. Davis was just one of the Lakers to return the favor post-game:
AD on Melo:
“A couple years ago, nobody wanted him. He was counted out. Doubted.
“…He’s been great for us so far. And I know he’s going to be great for us all year.”
— Melissa Rohlin (@melissarohlin) October 25, 2021
We don’t know what Melo’s role on the Lakers will be by the time the playoffs roll around. But for now, he’s doing everything he can to prove he’s still one of the most gifted scorers in the NBA. And when the Lakers needed him most in this early going, he delivered in a major way.