The Debut of 'Skinny Melo'
A few weeks into the NBA bubble, and a legend has already been born.
The Portland Trail Blazers knocked off the Memphis Grizzlies in an overtime thriller on Friday, 140-135. It moved 9th place Portland to within 2.5 games of 8th place Memphis for the last spot in the Western Conference playoffs.
And the Blazers couldn't have done it without veteran star Carmelo Anthony – better known now as 'Skinny Melo.'
With less than 1:30 left in regulation, Anthony connected on two clutch threes to help force the game to overtime.
Anthony would only score 2 points in overtime, but his services were no longer needed. Portland's star backcourt of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum carried the load, scoring 9 of the Blazers' 16 points in the extra frame.
For the game Anthony recorded 21 points on 7-for-10 shooting, along with 7 rebounds and 2 steals in 37 minutes of play. His performance at this point in the season is a far cry from where he was at the start of the season, when he was unemployed.
Part of Friday's showing might have had something to do with the veteran forward losing five pounds during the NBA's hiatus over the past four months due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
And, with forwards Zach Collins and Jusuf Nurkic returning from injury in the NBA bubble, Anthony is now able to slide back to his natural position of small forward.
In an interview with ESPN's Royce Young, Anthony discussed how shifting from power forward back to small forward motivated him to slim down.
"For me, I had that in the back of my mind, once coach told me ... that I'd be switching back to the 3. I kind of challenged myself to get down to that weight where I feel comfortable with playing the 3, comfortable running around and utilizing things I can do within our system from playing the 3."
Anthony now weighs in at 230 pounds, and the numbers say that the better the Melo, the better the Blazers.
The Blazers will matchup with the Boston Celtics on Sunday.
We'll see what 'Skinny Melo' has up his loose-fitting sleeves this weekend.