Los Angeles Lakers

Best moments in head-to-head battles between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony

In a time where high school basketball wasn't covered as intently as it is nowadays, it was nearly unheard of when the matchup between LeBron James and Carmelo Anthony was nationally televised when St. Vincent-St. Mary's high school faced off against Oak Hill Academy back in 2002.

The two high-profile prospects dueled it out as James went for 36 points, eight rebounds and five assists, while Anthony scored 34 points to go with 11 rebounds and a win.

One year later they would be selected No. 1 and No. 3 overall, respectively, in the 2003 NBA Draft and the rest has been a chapter of NBA history.

It has been 17 seasons of battles between two players that have grown to become more than rivals on the court, but also best friends off the court. With the Portland Trail Blazers clinching the final playoff spot in the Western Conference, we'll get to see these two square off in the first round - just their second meeting in the post-season and first since 2012.

Over the years, James and Anthony have met 40 times in the regular season and in one, five-game playoff series. So how have these two players have fared against each other in those games?

LeBron James vs. Carmelo Anthony regular season
LeBron James 21-14 50.1 28.2 7.0 7.7 1.5 0.9 3.8 25.8
Carmelo Anthony 14-21 42.1 34.9 6.4 2.8 0.9 0.6 2.7 21.7

LeBron James vs. Carmelo Anthony playoffs
LeBron James 4-1 47.8 35.0 6.2 5.6 2.2 0.2 4.2 27.8
Carmelo Anthony 1-4 41.9 22.2 8.2 2.2 1.2 0.2 2.8 27.8

As you can see, LeBron has the edge over Melo winning 25 of their 40 meetings. Take a look at some of the best matchups between these two future Hall of Famers.

2010 - Melo's game-winner spoils LeBron's 40-point triple-double

James: 43 points (15-33 FG, 1-9 3PT, 12-17 FT), 15 assists, 13 rebounds, 4 blocks, 2 steals

Anthony: 40 points (13-28 FG, 1-4 3PT, 13-16 FT), 7 assists, 6 rebounds, 2 blocks, 1 steal

Of every meeting between LeBron and Melo, this is undeniably the best one.

James had his Cleveland Cavaliers atop of the Eastern Conference while Anthony's Denver Nuggets were one of the Western Conference's best teams.

LeBron was unstoppable going for a monster triple-double of 43 points, 15 assists and 13 rebounds, but it was Melo who ended the game with a bang. In overtime, James finished a tough and-1 at the rim to tie the game with 20 seconds remaining. Anthony, who finished with an impressive 40 points, seven assists and six boards, one-upped his foe's clutch shot by knocking down a game-winning jumper right over LeBron's hand to earn the win.

2012 - Melo drops 41 to keep Knicks alive

James: 32 points (9-21 FG, 2-5 3PT, 12-13 FT), 8 rebounds, 5 assists, 2 steals

Anthony: 41 points (15-29 FG, 1-4 3PT, 10-14 FT), 6 rebounds, 4 assists, 1 steal

LeBron had been dominant to get the Miami Heat out to a commanding 3-0 series lead and the Knicks looked all but finished.

In what could have been the last game of New York's season, Melo kept the Knicks alive another day by going for 41 points in front of a rocking Madison Square Garden crowd.

James knocked down a clutch 3-pointer to tie the game with just over a minute remaining in the game, but Anthony came right back with a 3-ball of his own to give the Knicks a three-point lead late. The Knicks came up with a stop and Melo was fouled on a 3-point attempt but only hit one of three free-throw tries, leaving the door open for the Heat.

LeBron answered with an and-1 to make it a one-point game with under 20 seconds to go, but after Amar'e Stoudemire went 1-for-2 at the line, Dwyane Wade missed what would have been the game-winning 3-point attempt.

Melo finished with 12 points in the fourth quarter to help lead his team to victory.

2018 - LeBron closes out Melo, Thunder

James: 37 points (14-23 FG, 3-7 3PT, 6-10 FT), 8 assists, 8 rebounds, 1 block

Anthony: 24 points (10-22 FG, 3-9 3PT, 1-2 FT), 7 rebounds, 1 steal, 1 block

This matchup came late in their successful careers and at this point, many considered Anthony nearly finished. He was struggling with the Oklahoma City Thunder but naturally, raised his level of play when suiting up against his best friend and draft class partner.

This was an important game for the Cavaliers who had their share of ups and downs during this season. As a team that was rattling off long winning streaks and losing streaks throughout the year, this win in the last game before the All-Star break gave Cleveland a four-game winning streak heading into the unofficial halfway point of the season.

LeBron's 37-point, near-triple-double effort along with a strong performance from his team's bench helped overcome 24 points from Melo and 20-plus-point performances from Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Steven Adams.

It was one of Anthony's best games of the 2017-18 season, but James' impact on the game was too much to handle.

First meeting, last meeting

First meeting: 2003 - Nuggets 93, Cavaliers 89

James: 7 points (3-11 FG, 0-2 3PT, 1-1 FT), 11 rebounds, 7 assists, 3 blocks, 2 steals

Anthony: 14 points (6-17 FG, 1-2 3PT, 1-3 FT), 6 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block

The highly anticipated first NBA meeting between these two future stars came within the first five games of their careers. Melo got the best of James in this one, as LeBron struggled to score on the offensive end.

Anthony and the Nuggets won both games against James and the Cavaliers in their rookie season, as Melo dropped a game-high 26 points to go with an impressive four blocks and three steals in their second meeting. LeBron scored 19 points with six rebounds and five assists, but Cleveland came up short again.

Last meeting: 2019 - Lakers 128, Trail Blazers 120

James: 21 points (7-15 FG, 1-4 3PT), 16 assists, 7 rebounds, 2 steals, 1 block

Anthony: 13 points (5-14 FG, 1-2 3PT), 5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block

James was at his playmaking best in this game, dishing out 16 assists to go with 21 points as the Lakers snapped a four-game skid with the win.

Kyle Kuzma stole the show for the Lakers with one of his best performances of the season, pouring in 24 points, helping the Lakers bench outscore the Blazers reserves 72-39. Anthony Davis added 20 points and nine rebounds.

Damian Lillard led the Blazers with 31 points and nine assists, while Hassan Whiteside chipped in 19 points and CJ McCollum 18. Anthony shot just 5-of-14 from the field to finish with 13 points on the night.

It has been appointment television to watch these two duel it out since 2003 and with completely different narratives and circumstances on the line in the playoffs, it is must-see-TV once again.

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