Earlier in the season, late in games Carmelo Anthony felt forgotten — standing in the corner as a kick-out option, waving his arms and waiting his turn to go one-on-one. The Thunder offense was some of the games great scorers playing next to each other, not with each other in ways that forces hard choices upon a defense.
Fast forward to Friday night, when the lowly Atlanta Hawks battled back to take a four-point lead in the fourth quarter. One of the Thunder’s go-to plays down the stretch was Anthony setting a pick for Russell Westbrook then popping out to the arc. It forced tough decisions on the Hawks who could not handle it. OKC got the win and Anthony finished with 24 points and hit 7-of-12 from three.
It’s a different role for him, Anthony was always the guy with the ball in his hands in clutch — and non-clutch — moments in the game. He’s accepting it, as he and coach Billy Donovan said postgame Friday. Quotes via Royce Young of ESPN.
“One hundred percent,” Donovan said when asked if that was the ideal kind of offensive game for Anthony. “I give him a lot of credit because this is different for him, and he’s really been open-minded about trying to do whatever he can do to help the team. And as a coach, you really appreciate someone that’s been in the game such a long time and established himself as a 10-time All-Star, 14 years in the league, one of the all-time greats, that he’s willing to look at ways that he can do things a little bit differently to help our team.”