In a wild yet thrilling finish, the Los Angeles Lakers were finally able to win their first game of the 2021-22 season as they outlasted the Memphis Grizzlies at Staples Center on Sunday night.
The Lakers had a three-point lead with less than 10 seconds to go but Kent Bazemore was called for a 3-point shooting foul on Ja Morant, who was rising up from well beyond the arc. Morant managed to hit the first two free throws but missed the third one that would have tied the game and sent it to overtime.
Carmelo Anthony was the hero of the night as he led Los Angeles in scoring with 28 points, including several big-time shots in the fourth quarter that gave the team the lead. Aside from the Lakers finally earning a victory, it was historic night for Anthony personally as he passed up Moses Malone for ninth in the NBA’s all-time scoring list at 27,423 points.
The veteran reflected on the honor after the game.
“I mean when you’re in a battle like that, like tonight, it’s kind of hard to put everything into perspective or even think about it. The game is so close, so tight. It’s attention to detail so you don’t want to try to think about too many things out there on the court at that point. But making the play, getting the stop and winning the basketball game, it is what it is- I keep saying this but it’s a blessing,” Anthony said.
“To be on that list to pass Moses [Malone] and know was Moses did, what he did for the game of basketball- it’s hard to put into words. You know I’m still here doing it, that’s what I’m here excited about. I’m here, 19 [seasons] still doing it. Still passionate about the game. Coming to work every day and getting better and what better night to reach ninth.”
The Staples Center crowd gave Anthony a loud ovation after he passed Malone, to which he expressed appreciation.
“Again, I haven’t really put all into perspective yet. Just coming off this game, trying to decompress from the actual game. I haven’t had a chance to think about it all. You know being here in L.A. the way that the fans embrace me knowing the battles I’ve had in here in L.A. against the Lakers over the years and again, this happening in year 19. For these fans to embrace me that the way they doing, I just got to keep going that keeps me motivated, knowing that I’ve got a supporting cast with the fans of Los Angeles.”
Throughout his illustrious 19-year career, Anthony built a reputation as one of the league’s most potent and dangerous scorers. And in the win against the Grizzlies, he showed how he can still be effective.
Anthony found himself open on several threes as the Memphis defense keyed in on the Los Angeles Big 3 and as a spot-up shooter, the forward remains one of the premier marksmen across the NBA.
Even though Anthony compiled most of his career points between the Denver Nuggets and New York Knicks, it must mean something extra to accomplish this feat wearing the Purple and Gold. The storied franchise has been home to numerous greats and basketball legends and for Anthony to move up on the scoring list as a member of the Lakers had to be a surreal moment for himself and the fans.
Frank Vogel on Carmelo Anthony’s historic night
Head coach Frank Vogel had to be pleased with what he saw out of Anthony given the front office signed him to keep their offense humming. Even in Year 19, Anthony has proven he has plenty left in the tank and Vogel believes Anthony has been on a crash course to soar up the scoring list.
“He was outstanding tonight. Congrats to Melo. I mean ninth all-time, that’s unbelievable,” Vogel said. “Carmelo Anthony was awesome tonight. He didn’t crawl up to that milestone, he blew the doors off of it. I’m super happy for him. He’s been a great culture fit with our group and obviously really playing at a high level on the floor. He’s got a lot left in the tank and he’s really going to help us this year.”
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