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Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz

Résultat de recherche d'images pour "Houston Rockets vs Utah Jazz" What do you need from me? Donovan absorbed the question -- one he couldn't have been expecting -- and thought it over. He tends to give long, involved and enlightening answers that often include "So, to answer your question ..." somewhere around the midpoint. His eyes narrow as he goes, and the lines in his forehead deepen as he makes his point. He is almost never glib. What do I need? Well, here goes. "Carmelo," he said, "I think for our team, we're going to need you to fill a role. You're going to have to stretch the floor, and you're going to have to recognize mismatches. We're going to need to create space for Russ and Paul to play downhill and be creators for us. There might be times when you go four or five or six possessions and you don't get the ball. You might get missed on the break. Those are all adjustments, but we can't be the full team we're capable of being unless you're playing well." Never in his career -- not in his eight years in Denver nor his seven in New York -- had Anthony been open to the idea of reducing or even altering his role. But as Donovan spoke, he nodded along and said, "OK, Coach. I've got it." Without saying it, Donovan was asking him to be Olympic Melo, the guy who holds nearly every offensive record for Team USA and is the only men's player with three gold medals. Will Donovan get that guy? Again, it's complicated. In the Olympics, playing against inferior competition and with the world's best players, Anthony was willing to sublimate his ego, and his isolation game, for the greater good. But NBA coaches have pined for Olympic Melo before, notably Mike D'Antoni, who created the Olympic offense that created Olympic Melo, only to watch his tenure as Knicks coach end after he and Anthony clashed over the deployment of that very same offense. "I had to tell myself, 'OK, this is different,'" Anthony says. "Russ did things his way here. Paul did things his way in Indiana. I did things my way in New York. We were all solo artists. So now the question is, how do you bring your solo artistry to this band? We all bring something different to this band. I think once we realized and appreciated what we bring to this band, that's when things started to click for us. "The hard part is adjusting to having this opportunity. You have to sacrifice and change your game for the sake of what works for this team. Early on, it was like, 'Damn, it's not going to be the same game no more.' I had to get a grip on that and realize it's for the better. It took a little bit for me to understand -- 'Oh, wow, we've got Russ, Paul, Steve. I got guys now.' Takes a lot off me. Takes the burden off me to go out there and have to be a superhero night in and night out." The conversation with Donovan allowed Anthony to voice what was already growing inside him: He would be the one who would try to be somebody else. He had agreed with everything Donovan said. He had nodded along when his coach told him he needed to cut down the isolation plays and keep the ball moving and shoot more 3s. He kept reminding himself: I've got guys now. Without saying the words, he said he would make every effort to bring Olympic Melo to OKC. The next day, Anthony called Westbrook and George together and told them the new plan. "I'm gonna accept this role," he told them. "Until we accept that things are going to be different, we're just going to be this average team." The Thunder hit the All-Star break at 33-26. They won six straight in December and eight straight in January and are 25-14 since Donovan told Anthony he needed him to be someone else. (The Thunder are 3-6 since Jan. 27, when Andre Roberson's season-ending knee injury created a hole most people didn't realize he was filling.) Still, it's hard to see the fifth spot in the Western Conference, behind Minnesota and barely ahead of Portland and Denver, as anything other than a disappointment. Again, they point to June, and seven-game series, and the idea that it was important for this team to attempt an opulent makeover rather than risk turning another year of Westbrook's prime into a season-long solo act and a first-round playoff exit. And when it's working, when Westbrook's in 10th gear and George is at his smoothest and Adams is big-rigging his way through the lane and Anthony is hitting open looks, it's easy to believe in Donovan's vision. "Good luck if they've all got it going," Felton says. "Good luck to you." By the break, they'd climbed to 10th in the league in offense, with Anthony averaging 17.1 points and 6 rebounds, with a career-low 24.2 usage rate. He's trying. Lord knows he's trying. And there's no doubt in his mind: There will come a time when they'll need Vintage Melo. It'll be a playoff game, with the defenses clamped down tight, the game close, the clock winding down. They'll need to slow things down, run some clock, maybe coax a foul out of someone in trouble already. They'll need his guile. He'll stand out there at the 3-point line, assess the situation and then do exactly what he's done for 15 years: head for the elbow, roughly 17 feet away, and demand the ball. And that is why he dutifully heads out to that elbow after every practice and before every game. He ticks down the names of the active players from his '03 draft class: LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, Nick Collison, David West, Zaza Pachulia, Kyle Korver. He and James are the only remaining starters; Wade is taking a final bow in Miami, Collison is a de facto assistant coach in Oklahoma City, the others are fading role players. Anthony, a metallic defiance edging into his voice, says his situation is different, presumably more like LeBron's because "I don't think age and experience add up in my situation. You can say I have 15 years in, but I'm only 33." It's a warning: Do not confuse sacrifice with surrender. "I'm not saying, 'Oh, I accept this role because this is almost over,'" he says. "I don't see the end. No. I accept this because I want to win, and that's the only reason." And that's why, after he and Donovan were finished with their conversation and the decision was made, Anthony turned back. There was one more thing. "Coach," he said, a sly grin on his face. "Just don't take it all away from me." Comments

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