Carmelo Anthony is arguably one of the best shooters in the NBA from just inside 3-point territory. From 22 to 15 feet, he's money with his quick release and array of step-back moves.
On Tuesday night in an exhibition game against Spain in Barcelona, Melo had his breakout game with Team USA and put on a clinic from around that same distance, mostly on the higher end, which is three points in FIBA land. The 3-point line is nearly two feet shorter than the NBA one (22 feet, 1.7 inches vs. 23 feet, 9.0 inches).
After Team USA was down nine points early, Anthony checked in midway through the first quarter and led the momentum change. He scored 10 points by the end of the period, hitting two 3-pointers, and he had 23 at halftime, including five 3s, as the Americans led 48-40. From there, the Americans took off running, and Anthony's work was complete. He only needed to contribute four points the rest of the way, as Team USA won convincingly, 100-78.
Entering the game, there was a lot of talk about Spain being Team USA's toughest competition in the upcoming Olympics, and the Americans being under-sized in the paint. But the aggressive Anthony, utilizing his 6-8, 239-pound frame, also took his game inside and made things happen.
While Marc Gasol sat out with a shoulder injury, Spain still had a dominant frontcourt with Pau Gasol and Serge Ibaka -- but they couldn't contain Anthony. He grabbed rebounds, scored off putbacks and he beat the two bigs to the basket off backdoor cuts. Besides his shooting, Melo was able to dominate offensively without stopping the ball, which he's known to do sometimes.
Overall, it was the kind of Melo that Knicks fans want to see more of.
Previously against the Dominican Republic, Brazil and Argentina, Anthony combined for only 20 points. He had 13 in a blowout against the Dominicans, but in the next two games he kept settling for jumpers. Against Spain, not only did he find his shooting touch, but he played in the paint more. With Kevin Love not yet adjusted to international physical post play, Blake Griffin out, Dwight Howard not on the roster, Melo will be needed to be one of those guys who gives the Americans a punch down low.
And if he's got it going from outside, even better, because that's his sweetest spot.
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