ANALYSIS FEATURED STORIES Houston Sports

Houston Rockets: Breaking down Carmelo Anthony’s first game with Rockets

In his first game as a member of the Houston Rockets, it was a night to forget for star forward Carmelo Anthony. Before leaving his dreadful performance in the past, here is a breakdown from Anthony's subpar debut with the Rockets.
In his first game as a member of the Houston Rockets, it was a night to forget for star forward Carmelo Anthony. Before leaving his dreadful performance in the past, here is a breakdown from Anthony’s subpar debut with the Rockets.

It took a year longer than expected, but Carmelo Anthony finally made his debut as a member of the Houston Rockets in a 131-112 blowout loss to the New Orleans Pelicans, Wednesday night, in the Toyota Center.

By far one of the worst performances of his career, Anthony struggled to find his niche. In 27 minutes, he recorded nine points on 3-10 shooting from the field, 1-5 from behind the arc, four rebounds, and a team worst -20 plus/minus in the loss.

And after a season of rejecting the idea with the Oklahoma City Thunder, Anthony came off the bench for the first time in his career, ending his streak of 1,054 games started.

Anthony fell well short of expectations in his debut, but thankfully there are 81 more games to improve his play as a Rocket. In hopes of helping the future Hall-of-Famer get comfortable in Houston’s system, here is a breakdown of the good, bad, and the ugly from Anthony’s subpar performance.

The Good: Another high volume scorer

With a total of 25,426 points scored throughout his career, Anthony has established himself as one of the greatest scorers in NBA history. Although he is no longer the player that made him a 10-time all-star, Anthony is still one of the best versatile scorers in the game today.

And his ability to score the basketball was one full display in the first half of Wednesday’s game.

The Rockets trailed 18-10 midway through the first quarter when Anthony took the floor for the first time in Houston. For a team who was struggling to score, Melo provided the Rockets an instant spark off the bench.

While scoring five quick points, Melo’s first shot attempt was his signature off-dribble jumper just inside the 3-point arc. A few minutes later, his next basket came on a heavily contested three-point attempt that cut the Pelicans lead down to three. A few possessions later, Anthony went on to score his final field goal of the game, dunking off a feed from Chris Paul in transition.

Although he would go on to miss his final six shot attempts of the night, the first half gave insight into how Anthony can have a positive impact on Houston’s offense.

Yes, Mike D’Antoni‘s philosophy of “live by the three, die by the three” is the Rockets game plan. But having a player who can score 10 points from the mid-range with eases can be the difference maker to a championship title run.

Just think, if the Rockets had Melo a year earlier, his ability to score from the inside would have helped prevent a game 7 meltdown against the Golden State Warriors in Western Conference Finals.

The Bad: Melo the ball stopper

Throughout his career, Anthony has been known to be a blockhole on the offensive end. When given the ball, the team’s offense tends to stop as Anthony tries to breakdown his opponents with his isolation plays.

Although talented, Anthony must learn how to stay within the flow of the offense to avoid freezing his team teammates out. During Wednesday’s game, there were several plays where Houston’s offense stopped once Melo received the ball.

In a tweet posted by Drew Shiller, watch how Anthony’s isolation play kills the flow of the Rockets offense. Instead of moving the ball in hopes of getting a better shot, Houston’s offense comes to a halt as Anthony goes one-on-one with Pelicans big man, Anthony Davis.

Instead of trying to go one-on-one with one of the league’s best defender, Anthony should have kicked the ball out to James Harden to reset the offense for a better shot.

Unfortunately for Houston, that would not be the last wasted possession by Melo’s isolation play. In another post tweeted by Shiller, watch how Anthony misses a wide open Clint Capela on the baseline for an easy dunk.

No longer relied upon to score 25 plus in hopes of leading his team to a win, Anthony must learn how to share the ball to have a great impact in Houston.

The Ugly: Defense

From one of the biggest knocks of his career to the biggest. Anthony’s defense against the Pelicans was atrocious.

Yes, the Rockets defense as a whole was terrible, but Melo’s play on the defensive side of the ball may have been the worst. In almost every defensive assignment of the night, Anthony looked a stepped too slow to stay in front of his man.

In a tweet posted by Curtlow, observe how Anthony failed to stop the dribbling penetration from E’Twaun Moore. Just a few possessions later, he failed to close the gap in help defense as Elfrid Payton got to the basket with ease.

Due to the lack of urgency by Anthony on defense, both Moore and Payton converted two easy buckets against the Rockets.

It was not a great start to the season for Anthony, but on the bright side, this was only the first game. As time goes by, one should expect Anthony to find his role within the team and help the Rockets capture that elusive NBA title.

Melo and the Rockets will look to bounce back for their first win of the season on Saturday, when they take on LeBron James and the new-look Los Angeles Lakers in the Staples Center.

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