Carmelo Anthony fades after strong start in Trail Blazers debut

Carmelo Anthony got off to a fine start in his Portland Trail Blazers debut on Tuesday.

But as the game wore on, his offense wore down as he struggled to make shots and hold on to the ball in a 115-104 loss to the New Orleans Pelicans.

Anthony, playing and starting in his first NBA game since Nov. 8 of last year, hit his second shot from the field, an open 3-pointer from the wing.

It followed an opening Portland possession that saw Trail Blazers center Hassan Whiteside try a little too hard to get Anthony involved with a forced pass to the baseline that turned into a steal for Pelicans forward Kenrich Williams.

Anthony looks good early

Anthony missed his first shot, a 20-foot jumper, before connecting on the long ball that got the Trail Blazers on the scoreboard.

He’d go on to hit three of his first six shots from the floor before leaving for the bench midway through the second quarter when he picked up his third foul. He did not fare as well after halftime.

Carmelo Anthony's Portland debut can adequately be described as rusty. (Sean Gardner/Getty Images)

The numbers on Anthony’s debut

Anthony missed all three of his third-quarter shots en route to a 10-point performance that saw him hit 4-of-14 field goal attempts. He added four rebounds while turning the ball over a team-high five times and posting a team-worst minus-20 in the plus/minus column in a debut that can be adequately described as rusty.

Whether the 35-year-old 10-time All-Star can knock that rust off will be one of the stories to watch in Portland as the Trail Blazers look to dig themselves out from a 5-10 start.

Anthony a low-risk gamble for Portland

While Anthony’s ability to make an impact on a team that desperately needs frontcourt scoring is an unknown, his addition to the lineup is relatively low-risk. He signed a non-guaranteed contract with Portland that will be guaranteed if he remains with the team past January.

By then, the Blazers should have a better gauge of where he fits in the lineup and whether they’ll be a competitive team in the Western Conference.

Plenty of opportunity for Anthony

The Blazers got more bad news ahead of the game when star guard Damian Lillard was scratched with back spasms. Lillard has been the lone bright spot in Portland with a scorching start to the season before he went into a shooting slump over the last week that appears related to his back problems.

How long he’ll be sidelined is unclear, but any prolonged absence will provide Anthony with more opportunity to contribute as a scorer.

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