Carmelo Anthony showed that he can still get it done when it matters most after having a big fourth quarter in the Rockets last game.
P.J. Tucker returned for the Rockets on Sunday against San Antonio and scored 19 points. Tucker’s return as a starter sent Carmelo Anthony to the second unit, which is expected to be his permanent role in the regular season.
Melo got off to his slowest start of the preseason. He shot 0-for-6 in the first half and finished with more fouls than points, but he turned it around in the second half. Melo dropped 10 points on 4-for-4 shooting from the field in the fourth quarter to help Houston out score the Spurs by 13 points in the final period. The Rockets won the game 108-93.
The lineup that did most of the damage in that fourth period featured Chris Paul, James Harden, Eric Gordon, P.J. Tucker and Carmelo Anthony. This lineup makes a lot of sense for Houston in late game situations, especially with Clint Capela out. All five guys can drain 3-pointers and everyone outside of Tucker can create their own shot.
Paul, Gordon and Tucker can defend the opposing team’s best players and Melo can defend the center, which will hide his poor lateral quickness.
Throughout the season, we will likely see Mike D’Antoni use this small ball lineup a lot with Carmelo and Tucker up front. If Capela is in foul trouble, or if opposing teams take their centers off the court, this lineup with Tucker playing center (or Anthony) could be a better bet than inserting Houston’s back up centers.
Mike D’Antoni thinks Melo is a perfect fit as a closer in Houston’s lineup. He didn’t mind Anthony’s mid-range pull ups, as long as they come later in the game, according to the Houston Chronicle’s Jonathan Feigen.
“He’s going to be perfect. James and Chris don’t have to carry the load. He can make plays. His game, too, toward the end of games, mid-range, post-ups are good. We don’t want to do it most of the game because 3s are better throughout the game, but when it comes down to one point, two points, three points, whatever, it gives us another big option.”
Last season, the Rockets took just 563 mid-range jumpers as a team. Carmelo attempted 460 mid-range jumpers a season ago by himself.
There’s no question that Melo will have to cut down on his mid-range pull ups and adjust his shot selection to fit in with Houston. Although, he won’t have to completely abandon those shots. Of Houston’s 563 mid-range shots last year, 180 (31.9 percent) of those attempts came from Chris Paul, even though he missed 24 games in the regular season.
CP3 has been stellar from mid-range his entire career, and because he made 53.9 percent of his mid range attempts, it’s actually a very efficient shot for him to take. Melo is also a mid-range marksmen, so D’Antoni will give Anthony a little more leeway in the mid-range department, especially late in close games when any good shot should be attempted.