Oklahoma City wound down the regulation time of their 126-125 loss to Denver on Friday night with All-Star power forward Carmelo Anthony on the bench. The one-time Denver Nugget star watched from the bench as Russell Westbrook’s three-point attempt, with two second left, went off mark and sent the game into overtime.
When asked in the post game if he was surprised to ride the pine for regulation finale, Melo said that he absolutely was. “Of course I wanted to be there” Anthony said, “but that wasn’t my decision to make, so I kind of leave that to coach on that one.”
Perception and reality are frequently different and while it’s true that Billy Donovan did draw up the final play of regulation without Anthony, the initial decision to remain on the bench was Carmelo’s.
Anthony was sent to the scorer’s table to check in at the three-minute mark but after Jerami Grant nailed a three from the corner, to put OKC up by six, at the 2:22 mark, Anthony waved to the court and chose to go back to the bench.
“I was sitting for the whole fourth, and there was like two and some change on the clock,” Anthony said. “[Grant] hit that 3, so it was like, just let him continue to go out there and just play it out and see what happens. But then we wind up going to overtime.”
It’s hard to speculate on post-game comments but it sounds a bit like Anthony regreted his decision to remain on the pine.
For his part, Donovan agreed with the move, or lack of, and let it remain.
“It was kind of a hard thing. I wanted to put Melo back in the game,” Donovan said, “but I think that unit was playing so well at that particular time. We were on a pretty good run, we were playing good. Jerami made a 3 when I wanted to put Carmelo back in. Carmelo’s always been a team guy. I think he felt like, ‘OK, Jerami’s playing well, let him go, let him play.'”
It’s worth noting that Anthony did play the entire third quarter, when his normal rotation has him exiting late in the third and returning with about six minutes left in the fourth. Clearly that wasn’t the case on Friday night and Melo clearly has mixed reactions to it.
Carmelo shot 9-21 from the floor Friday night but was 5-10 from the three-point line. He tallied 23 points, and 9 rebounds, in 33 minutes.