The Los Angeles Lakers won late Sunday night, putting on a terrifyingly spooky defensive clinic against the Houston Rockets. The defense was the main reason they won 95-85, but the team also received another offensive outburst from Staples Center favorite Carmelo Anthony. He ended with 23 points on 8-of-14 field-goal shooting, including five made 3-pointers on eight attempts. I’d be remissed if I didn’t mention his defensive statistics, as he did help the team in that regard with four blocks and two steals (first time with those defensive stats since 2003 per Lakers Nation).
This is Carmelo’s third 20+ point scoring performance of the Lakers’ young seven-game season so far, with all three of those games ending in wins. He’s now taken 46 3-point attempts, just narrowly edging LeBron James (45) in most attempts with the next closest being Malik Monk with 30. 40 of those 46 attempts have been “open” or “wide-open” attempts, as Carmelo is just taking what the defense presents to him instead of forcing up tough, guarded shots.
Frank Vogel discussed the open looks that Carmelo has been getting after the Lakers’ win against the Rockets, saying this is no coincidence (per Jacob Rude of Silver Screen & Roll).
“He knows the right spots to be in. We always try to put him on the backside when we’re running certain actions knowing that the defense is going to collapse and we want him to be the recipient of those types of plays. It’s a little bit of him finding windows to get himself open and a lot of – we’ve got three guys that can put pressure on the rim in Russ, Bron, and AD”
LeBron James also talked about Carmelo shooting so well lately (he had 24 points on Friday against the Cavs), saying the team has needed it with Wayne Ellington and Trevor Ariza yet to make their debuts (h/t Ryan Ward of Lakers Nation).
LeBron on Carmelo strong play as of late: “You know, it’s definitely big for us. Especially having some of our other playmakers out, having two of our snipers out, as far as Wayne, and TA. So, Melo definitely stepped it up from the perimeter, for our perimeter shooting.”
— Ryan Ward (@RyanWardLA) November 1, 2021
LeBron says it's the job of the playmakers on the team – him, AD, Russ – to create open looks for shooters like Melo and they have to knock down open looks
— Jacob Rude (@JacobRude) November 1, 2021
As previously stated, Carmelo is starting to shape up as a bit of an x-factor for the Lakers this season. So far when he shoots the lights out of the gym, the Lakers win. He’s now averaging 16.7 points per game off the bench, averaging a scorching 52.2 3-point percentage, as he has drastically out-performed the veteran minimum contract he is on. If this type of production continues all season and the Lakers continue to right the ship on defense, then the Lakers will be tough to beat on a nightly basis even if the fit between the three stars continues to fluctuate.