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Carmelo Anthony Makes a Difference in Portland

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Carmelo Anthony provides much-needed hope for a team searching for success in this week’s Mom’s Favorite.

Chicago Bulls v Portland Trail Blazers Photo by Alika Jenner/Getty Images

Each week, Team Mom highlights her favorite plays, players, and other things that made the Trail Blazers fun to watch. Who is Mom’s Favorite this week? What were your favorite things that happened this week? Let us know in the comments below.

Week 3: November 24-30. Chicago Bulls (W), Oklahoma City Thunder (W), Chicago Bulls (W)

Mom’s Favorite: Carmelo Anthony

A number of things have contributed to the Portland Trail Blazers’ three wins this week, not the least of which is the fact that they played two bad teams, one of them twice. Before they faced off on the 25th the Bulls were 6-11 and the Blazers were 5-12. The Thunder’s record when they met last week was 6-10. These were all “winnable” games.

So imagine where we would be today if the Blazers had lost any (or, God forbid, all) of those games? After losing to the Pelicans and the Cavaliers, it was imperative that the Blazers win those next games in order to keep fans’ hopes alive and to quiet the calls for Terry Stotts’ job.

Neil Olshey’s Hail Mary to bring in Carmelo Anthony appears to be working. After shaking off the rust, Anthony is settling into the rotation. With injuries up and down the roster, Stotts had been patching holes with rookies and journeymen. As much as I like watching the young guys play, the team is better with five career starters, well...starting.

This week, Carmelo Anthony reminded the league why people typically add “future hall-of-famer” to his name. Not because he is at the top of his game anymore—after a year away and with Father Time catching up, that would be unreasonable to expect—but because he commands respect on the court from his teammates, his opponents, and fans.

As we saw in Chicago, the players love watching Melo succeed.

As we saw in his first game at Moda, the fans love having him on their side.

And as the Blazers finished off a close one against Chicago, Stotts went with Anthony in the closing lineup. He played all 12 minutes of the fourth quarter, adding nine points plus one rebound and one assist. As much as fans worried he would be a defensive liability, Coach left him in to draw attention and take up space. He responded by playing well on both ends of the floor in a game the Blazers absolutely needed to win.

You can have your opinions about if the Blazers will win a Championship this year or land a lottery pick. The answer, as usual, probably lies somewhere in the middle. I will take the injection of energy that Melo has brought to the players, the options he provides the coaches, the fun he has brought to the team, and the resurgence of style he has brought to the pre-game walk-up.

Honorable mentions

Ball movement? I noticed this last week and wanted to check if it was a trend. For the season, the Blazers are still last in the league in assists (20.0 per game) and they are second to the last in passes. But good news for Blazer fans who like passing: the upward trend continues. Over three games this week they averaged 258 passes made, well above their season average 244.4.

Corner threes At the end of many of those extra passes? Corner threes. Here is Skal Labissiere kicking it out to CJ McCollum.

And Carmelo Anthony to Rodney Hood:

The Blazers are about one quarter of the way into the season and they have already made 41 percent of the total corner threes that they made in last year’s campaign. Last season, they made a total 212 corner threes, This season they are already up to 87 made corner threes. Keep your eye on Hood and Anthony to see who ends up with the most success from this area that has been a lonely place for the Blazers recently.

CJ McCollum free throws. Through the first 8 games, McCollum was 24-26 from the free throw line (92.3%). Then he hit a seven game stretch, between November 8 - 19, where he went 1-7 (14.3%). For three games he didn’t even get to the line. Over the last five games, McCollum hasn’t missed a free throw. While he is only averaging 2.4 free throw attempts per game, he is making the best of them.

Babies everywhere! Dame Lillard Jr (DLJ) nearly got Mom’s Favorite this week. This is how you own the walk-up in sweats:

And then Jusuf Nurkic got in on the action:

And Kent Bazemore’s baby Jett made an appearance:

To which DLJ replied by calling out for his Daddy Dame time (behind the picture of his huge group of family and friends, you will see Lillard’s son cheering on his daddy on the television):

This Thanksgiving week, I am thankful to all of the players who share their talents and their lives with us in Rip City. That will do it for this week’s Mom’s Favorites. What did you like about this week? What plays or player make you excited for the future? Let us know in the comments below.

Xoxo Team Mom | @tcbbiggs