CHICAGO — There was a 376-day gap between Carmelo Anthony’s last NBA game and when he joined the Portland Trail Blazers on a non-guaranteed contract on Nov. 19.
Four games into his comeback, the veteran treated his wife, La La Anthony, to a vintage performance with a season-best 25 points and eight boards in Portland’s 117-94 win against the Chicago Bulls on Monday.
“Mentally, she kept me going,” Anthony said of his wife. “Emotionally, she kept me going. She was nudging me, ‘Don’t do it, don’t think about it, don’t do it, don’t you let that thought creep into your head.’ So, she was a major, major part of why I’m here today.”
La La Anthony was in town filming for the television show “The Chi.” After her husband passed Alex English for the 18th spot on the all-time scoring list, she FaceTimed their son, Kiyan, using her iPhone during a timeout with 7:49 left, as his dad rested on the bench.
Once Anthony noticed his son watching, he used a hand gesture to salute him from across the screen.
“My son always wants to feel like he’s here,” La La Anthony told ESPN. “He misses his dad a lot. I was filming up the block, so I came here and just wanted my son to feel like he was a part of the moment. I FaceTimed him so he could see his dad, and he just was excited because his dad had such a great game tonight.”
She added: “Who wouldn’t want to see this? It’s amazing and exactly how it should be.”
The 25-point performance was Anthony’s highest scoring game since his 28 points against Brooklyn on Nov. 2, 2018. Portland was also able to snap a four-game losing skid with CJ McCollum adding 21 points on the night. All-Star guard Damian Lillard contributed 13 points with 12 assists,but was also caught up in the Carmelo Anthony Show, just like Bulls fans who chanted “Bring back Melo” and “We want Melo” late in the fourth once he checked out.
When Anthony’s 3-pointer dropped at 9:31 in the fourth, Lillard stole his famous three fingers to the head celebration while jumping up and down on the sidelines. His teammates also got hyped after his two-handed baseline jam over Wendell Carter Jr. after blowing past Tomas Satoransky at 9:46.
“Three to the head,” Lillard said, smiling. “He had it rolling. Our whole bench, we was just excited to get it going. Him being here has been fun, and we all welcome seeing his bounce back happen and it’s going to be fun to watch.”
Chicago dropped to 6-12 on the season with a 3-7 home record. Zach LaVine led the squad with 18 points and five assists, with the team shooting 41.9 percent from the field.
Ironically, the Bulls were also the last team to waive Anthony on Feb. 1 after briefly acquiring him via trade for 10 days from Houston on Jan. 22. He claims, “they didn’t ask” him to suit up after the deal.
“I think at that point in time, it was just like we’ll do it just to do it and it was no conversation with that,” Anthony explained.
In 2014, he was close to signing with Chicago via free agency after being strongly recruited by the team with images and his name being blasted across town during that summer. Having his name still attached to the organization doesn’t bother Anthony, either, as he’s regaining his rhythm in Portland with his family’s support.
As soon as he showered, dressed and finished his postgame media session, La La was waiting for him inside the media room near the visitors locker room, adding another chapter to his ties with the Bulls throughout his 17-year career.
“I think at the end of the day, I’ll always be connected to Chicago, someway somehow,” Anthony said. “For years and years, my name has always been connected to the Chicago Bulls, and I was a Bull for 10 days. But, someway somehow, I’ll always be connected to them.”
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