Posts Tagged ‘James Anderson’

Tough Circumstances, But 76ers Push On

VIDEO: The GameTime crew discusses Evan Turner and the Sixers

DALLAS — This might be the worst season to be a Philadelphia 76er. One day, it might be looked upon by these players as the most meaningful of their careers.

Before it even started, they were blown off as losers, expected to pile up losses at potentially an historic rate. It is a roster in the early stages of long-term construction, patched together with veterans Evan Turner, Spencer Hawes and Thaddeus Young, exciting No. 11 pick Michael Carter-Williams (and injured No. 6 pick Nerlens Noel) and undrafted rookies and grunts added from the end of other teams’ benches.

First-year coach Brett Brown‘s starting lineup in Monday’s 97-94 loss at Dallas, a hard-fought game lost during a faulty stretch late in the third quarter and into the fourth, did not include Carter-Williams (foot) for a fourth consecutive game. It did include Grizzlies’ castoff Tony Wroten going for 19 points with five steals, and James Anderson, the former Oklahoma State swingman who has swung in and out of San Antonio, Houston and the D-League, scoring 14 points with seven rebounds in 42 minutes.

Hollis Thompson, Lavoy Allen, Darius Morris and Brandon Davies combined to play 58 minutes off the bench. Ultimately the kind of mistakes — an unforced turnover, a rushed possession, a lost rebound — that doom young teams sabotaged their hard work and the Sixers lost a third consecutive game and fell to 5-7. But the fight was there.

“I kind of think it starts from the top and [Brown’s] attitude is pretty infectious in that regard,” Hawes said. “Coach has done a great job since Day 1 of being realistic and really letting us play and letting us all continue to improve. We all still have a lot to learn from what he’s bringing to the table and a lot to improve on, and I think when you look at it through that lens it keeps you motivated.”

Brown, his unmistakable New England accent ever-apparent despite more than a decade working in San Antonio under Gregg Popovich, pedals passion, genuine hard work, accountability and camaraderie.

“At the end of the day, we’re a hard-working team,” Young said. “So that should tell you a lot right there.”

Ask the Heat, Bulls and Rockets. Philly’s beaten all three. Ask the underachieving Nets and Knicks. Both are looking up at the Atlantic Division-leading Sixers.

Young, who once called Elton Brand, Andre Iguodala, Lou Williams and Jrue Holiday teammates, said this team’s daily goal is straightforward.

“To get better as a team, to help the growth of the young guys and to go out there and build something that in the future we can go out there and be ready to win basketball games or playoff series,” Young said. “That’s the biggest thing right now is the growth and development of what we’re trying to do here.”

Which, of course, begs the question: Why? On most nights the squad is severely undermanned. The veterans — Young, Evans and Hawes — could eventually be traded and each could be resentful of the franchise’s direction.

“All of us in this room, we plan to win games and we plan to keep on trying to win basketball games,” Young said. “I’m here, I’m ready to work, so are the rest of the guys. That’s the main focus. We’re just thinking about winning basketball games.”

The day after the Sixers’ worst loss of the season, a 37-point whipping Saturday at New Orleans, Brown, as is his custom, led a brutally candid film session, then transferred the discussion from the screen to the practice floor.

“I feel that by keeping it candid and by putting it all in perspective that we can inch along and continue to improve as a team, and keep our guys improving, either as a group or individually,” Brown said. “I hope that that’s the formula to keep all of us together over a long year [that] at times is going to be one where we experience some losses. We just have to go head-down and stay focused on continuing to try to get better.”

After returning to the hotel a worn-out unit, Brown called a team dinner.

“I like seeing our guys interact together, and the group is good. The group stays together,” Brown said. “The veterans have been doing what veterans should do in relation to keeping the young guys on track; the young guys are pliable, they listen, they want to get better. I’m proud of the camaraderie and the chemistry we’ve shown to date, albeit an early period of time, even when we’ve taken hits.”

The next night against Dallas, unbeaten at home, the Sixers jumped out to an 8-0 lead, played tough defense, but couldn’t contain Dirk Nowitzki, Monta Ellis and Shawn Marion long enough to get to the finish line. Still, in a season where wins won’t always go in the win column, and hard truths will be gashed wide open, Brown could honestly say he got the positive response he hoped for in the aftermath of the New Orleans blowout.

“The truth — in relation to ‘this is your rotation’ or ‘this is a problem that we have as a team’ — has to be our compass,” Brown said. “Anything short of that, I’m doing them a disservice. This group wants to be coached, it has to be coached. When it starts getting to the stage where people feel uncomfortable accepting that type of educating process — it’s not a personal thing — then we may have some problems or maybe this isn’t the program for them.

“And that’s the mission we’re all on, to keep this thing real, to keep it tight, to keep it candid, to be positive, to be down when people need to be told the truth, and life moves on.

“And that’s the only way I know how to do it, and I hope it’s the right way.”

Banged-up Spurs Begin Six-Game Road Trip

HANGTIME SOUTHWEST — Five days ago the San Antonio Spurs were the picture of good health, one of just two NBA teams with a clean injury slate. Now, as they begin a six-game, 10-day road trip through the Eastern Conference, two key injuries have the Spurs plugging holes with D-League reinforcements.

Starting small forward Kawhi Leonard (knee) could return by the fifth game of the trip (at Orlando in a week) and reserve small forward Stephen Jackson (finger) will miss all of it, and more. Jackson is expected to be out four to six weeks after he fractured his right pinkie finger Monday night.

Combined, the pair averages 18.3 points and 9.7 rebounds. Beyond the stats, Leonard is a tough wing defender and he helps spread the floor offensively as a 3-point threat. The veteran Jackson obviously delivers jolts of energy and attitude at both ends of the floor.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich loves to rotate players and the injuries will make that more difficult to accomplish when most needed on a long road trip that winds through Boston, Indiana, Toronto, Washington, Orlando and finally Miami, and includes two back-to-backs. Through 11 games — with the Spurs quietly at 8-3 — Popovich has used 10 players for at least 16 minutes a game with only two players — Tim Duncan and Tony Parker — averaging at least 30 minutes (both are at a very reasonable 30.5).

“It hurts numbers-wise,” Duncan said following Monday’s loss home loss to the Clippers. “Obviously, what they mean to the team skill-wise and being out on the floor and making shots and all the rest of that stuff, numbers-wise we actually had some guys step up. Matty (Bonner) got back in there and played well. Nando (De Colo) got an opportunity, so we’re just going to have to keep shuffling and see what we get out of it.”

On Wednesday, the Spurs recalled guard Cory Joseph from their D-League affiliate in Austin and signed former draft pick James Anderson, a 6-foot-6 shooting guard who was playing for the D-League’s Rio Grande Valley Vipers.

But, old hands like Bonner, whose customary 20 minutes a game over the last four seasons has been sliced in half this season, in-and-out-of-favor DeJuan Blair and the inconsistent Tiago Splitter will have to pick up more minutes and help out the rejuvenated Duncan (18.0 ppg, 10.0 rpg) on the boards, the one area the Spurs collectively have lacked, ranking 24th in the league in rebounding differential and near the bottom in giving up offensive rebounds.

“Obviously we lose a lot of size with Jack and Kawhi, so that’s going to be a disadvantage for us at that 3-position,” Duncan said. “We’re going to ask them to do a lot more of that rebounding and rebound their area, but it’s on all of us. We know what we have to do. We know where we’re being hurt, and definitely the offensive glass is one of them.”

Anderson Hoping Familiar Run With Spurs Leads to Another Shot

LAS VEGAS – His reasoning makes sense. Knowing the system increases the chances of being comfortable, being comfortable increases the chances of playing well and playing well obviously increases the chances of being signed, so James Anderson decided to play for the Spurs in Summer League.

It’s still weird, though. The Spurs have told Anderson in actions that he is not in their future, first in declining to pick up the $1.56-million option on his rookie contract, making the No. 20 pick in 2010 an unrestricted free agent, and then by committing themselves to Danny Green at shooting guard. Green became a surprisingly important contributor to the team that tied for the best record in the league and got a three-year, $12-million deal this month, and Anderson got to go job hunting.

“I think a fresh start would be good for me,” he said, reconciling himself to what appears to be an inevitable breakup. “It would be good to getting a lot of minutes.”

San Antonio could still bring him back, although that seems very unlikely with 14 guaranteed contracts already on the books and no real openings on the wing. But Anderson chose to stay with the Spurs for Summer League, figuring the comfort level would give him the best chance to play well in an audition for the rest of the league.

“It’s not awkward at all,” Anderson said Wednesday night after eight points and seven rebounds in 27 minutes in the 86-80 loss to the Clippers at Cox Pavilion. “I know a lot of the guys on the team. I know the system.”

There does not appear to be any strong interest yet from other teams after 77 total appearances the first two seasons. Anderson is hoping that will change. He is hoping that one, probably final, run with the Spurs will lead to a future somewhere.

Manu’s Injury Worst Break For Spurs


HANG TIME TEXAS – Just last week Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was sounding delighted that the good health of second-year players James Anderson and Tiago Splitter could give his team the kind of added depth necessary to weather the rigors of this condensed season.

Now Pop is sounding the alarm.

The Celtics had to open the season with Paul Pierce missing a few games due to a bruised heel and the Lakers have had to adjust to Kobe Bryant playing with torn ligaments in his wrist.

But the Spurs became the first team to take a serious hit to their starting lineup when Manu Ginobili broke a bone in his left (shooting) hand Monday night in Minneapolis while trying to make a steal.

As our good friend Mike Monroe points out in the San Antonio Express-News, the Spurs are losing more than just their leading scorer in Ginobili:

The two-time All-Star is to be re-examined by the Spurs’ medical staff today, after which a timeline for his return will be determined.

By the time the Timberwolves claimed their second victory of the season, the Spurs already were counting the ways they will have to cope without one of their most important players and their emotional touchstone.

“It’s going to be tough for us, because he was playing at an All-Star level,” said Parker, painfully aware Ginobili entered Monday’s game leading the team in scoring (19.8 points per game), shooting (60.5 percent) and 3-point shooting (54.2 percent). “Now everybody is going to have to pick it up and play better.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said James Anderson would move into the starting spot at shooting guard until Ginobili returns.

Anderson said he will be in the gym at the Spurs’ practice facility today, even if Popovich doesn’t call an official practice session.

“With him gone, I’m just going to have to get in the gym for some extra work and try to fulfill that role the best I can. He’s one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle on this team. Without him, we lose a lot of stuff, and that’s on both ends.”

It is so much more than the almost 20 points a game from Ginobili that the Spurs will be missing. He’s their heart, their soul, their spark, their engine at both ends of the floor. While we watch the 35-year-old Tim Duncan age before our eyes and Tony Parker not quite rise to the level of someone who can carry his team every night, Ginobili is the difference-maker for the Spurs.