Carmelo Anthony wins first road game against Nuggets with no love from fans
Carmelo Anthony entered Game 1 of the Nuggets-Trail Blazers playoff series to a chorus of boos.
Even with just 7,750 allowed inside Ball Arena on Saturday night, the response was overwhelming.
“It’s cool, man,” Anthony told reporters postgame while cracking a grin. “I love those guys, too.”
That’s because Melo made Nuggets fans eat their taunts, quickly. The ageless scorer poured in 12 points over his first 5 minutes off the bench Saturday — with three straight makes from deep — to finish the night with 18 on 50% shooting.
The Blazers rolled, 123-109, and Anthony earned his first career road win in Denver. The former Nuggets star (2003-11) had previously lost 10 consecutive games as an opponent in the Mile High City.
“It’s not even something that I’ve really even thought about it to be honest with you,” Anthony said. “Somebody told me that when I was in the locker room after the game. But I’ll take it. I’ll take my first win being Game 1 of the Western Conference playoffs.”
There are several ways to frame Anthony’s well-documented history with the Nuggets.
On Saturday, fans who cheered Anthony likely respect the longevity of a 36-year-old whose career totals with the Nuggets are staggering: 13,970 points, 3,566 rebounds and 1,729 assists over 564 games.
Those booing likely recalled another Anthony statistic with the Nuggets — six first-round playoff exits. Maybe they still haven’t recovered from Anthony’s trade request or just appreciate the value of homecourt advantage. Either way, the boos won out when Anthony touched the floor or the basketball.
“They love me. They hate me. I can’t do anything about that but go out there, smile, enjoy myself, have fun and play basketball,” Anthony said. “Whatever they have to say, let them say it, it’s not my concern.”
Anthony, when asked to elaborate on that negativity, continued.
“What else can they do? I don’t know. I don’t have that answer,” he said. “I gave it my all here for seven-and-a-half, eight years. I’ve never said anything bad about Denver, about the fans, about the organization, players. I never complained. Took everything on the chin even when it wasn’t my fault. I raised my hand and said: ‘I’ll take the blame for it.’
“It’s like I was birthed here in Denver with the Denver Nuggets. I started my career here. This will always be a special place for me, regardless of the boos. It is what it is. Those who know, know. Those who don’t, it’s not my concern.”
In Game 1, the Blazers bench outscored the Nuggets reserves, 34-20, with Anthony as the go-to sparkplug. Fans aiming to get under Anthony’s skin with more boos Monday for Game 2 at Ball Arena might want to reconsider.
“It’s almost like a video game,” Portland center Jusuf Nurkic said. “(Anthony) got hot and there’s nothing you can do. … It’s a beautiful game when you’re watching him play it.”