NEW ORLEANS – It didn't take long for the Portland Trail Blazers to get Carmelo Anthony involved in the crime.
And even though he finished with just 10 points in Tuesday's loss of 115-104 to the New Orleans Pelicans, it is very clear that Portland's goal is clear: Get the ball to Melo … early and often.
In Portland's very first possession, Anthony, who received a warm welcome from the crowd at the Smoothie King Center, tried to put the Pelicans forward Kenrich Williams. But the pass was late and Williams went in front of a steal.
Next time down the court, Anthony's offense worked again as he attempted a field goal from the top of the circle. It hit the back of the edge.
The third time was the charm, however, when Anthony made a 3 from the left side of the court, just above the break for his first NBA score in 376 days.
There wasn't much after that, but it wasn't for lack of effort. In just under 24 minutes, Anthony finished 4-of-14 from the floor and was one of six Blazers to score in double digits. Anthony was 2 of 3 on his 3-pointers and added four rebounds and one block. He also finished with five turnovers and a game-worst minus-20. Only CJ McCollum had more shot attempts (22).
There were clear pieces of rust when Anthony picked up three fouls in the first half and recorded his fourth early in the third quarter. He checked out for good with 6:21 left, after his fifth foul.
On defense, Anthony was also like that. When he was the primary defender, the Pelicans were 4-of-8 from the field and 3-of-5 from the 3-point range.