While the Denver crowd may have booed the third overall pick from the 2003 NBA Draft, Nuggets head coach Michael Malone has nothing but respect for the NBA's 10th place all-time scorer.
"I'll just say this. Top-10 scorer in NBA history, still playing at such a high level and he impacted the game in a huge way last night," explained Malone.
To open the 2021 NBA Playoffs, Melo and the Portland Trail Blazers defeated the Denver Nuggets 123-109 at Ball Arena for Anthony's first win at Denver since being traded.
On Saturday, Anthony scored 18 points on 50% shooting off the bench, including making four of his first five shots for 12 first-quarter points. Third-year point guard Anfernee Simons added 14 points on 4-5 shooting from three-point range to help give Portland the advantage in bench scoring.
"We need to do a better job guarding [Anthony] and Simons," added Malone. "Their bench outscored our bench 34-20."
With Anthony playing a key role in putting his team in a 0-1 hole, Malone talked about how ridiculous it was Melo did not have a roster spot for nearly a calendar year.
"It's incredible to think about a few years ago, people were wondering if Carmelo was washed up and done," said the Nuggets head coach.
"I'm not saying that because we're playing them. I'm saying that because it's the truth."
Malone and Denver will try to slow down Melo and the Trail Blazers during Game 2 on Monday, May 24th at 7:00 p.m. on NBC Sports NW, the official home of the Portland Trail Blazers.