Anderson shoots for improvement

February 24, 1999

Anderson shoots for improvement

   He is a career 41 percent shooter, some years a little better, some a little worse.

But this abbreviated NBA season has been much worse for Celtics point guard Kenny Anderson, whose shooting percentage of just .351 (34 for 97, including 0 for 9 on 3-pointers) is something he'd like to put behind him - and quickly, with the first-place Orlando Magic coming to town tonight.

Anderson, who missed 12 of the Celtics' final 16 games last season because of a bone bruise in his left knee, said the injury has healed and is not a factor in his cold start. 

"I've had some peaks where I've done some good things," said Anderson after yesterday's practice at Brandeis. "I'm working hard. But my shot is not falling. I'm not hitting shots I normally hit. All I can do is keep shooting when the shot is there and keep playing hard."

Anderson focused on rehabbing his knee during the offseason, "and it feels great," he said. "With all the running we're doing and the pounding it's taken in practices, it really hasn't bothered me. So I'm real happy about that."

Two days after he and captain Antoine Walker cursed at each other during an 86-75 loss at Washington, both players, who were fined for their actions, were chatting away like old buddies in the post-practice shoot-around.

For Anderson, the shooting slump and the Washington incident are on the back burner. Of more importance, he said, is the crash course he and the rest of the Celtics are taking in getting acquainted with new faces after a very brief preseason.

"I'm looking at new players up front like Paul Pierce and Tony Battie and I'm trying to work with them," said Anderson. "It's different, because last year, I'd penetrate and look at times for Travis Knight to shoot that little jumper. It's almost a whole new team and we're still getting accustomed to one another in a short period of time."

Coach Rick Pitino said that Anderson's conditioning, like that of some other players, isn't up to par.

"It's going to take some time before he showcases his true skills," said Pitino. "I think that's why he's been struggling a little bit. He wasn't in bad shape, but he wasn't ready to go, but I think as each game goes along, he'll get better and better."

That hasn't been the case for the Celtics, who after evening their record at 3-3 dropped a couple of ugly road games to Portland and Washington, averaging a paltry 80.5 points in that span.

"We're still experiencing growing pains," said Anderson. "We're still above water, but our offensive chemistry hasn't been there. We've been coming out sluggish.

"We've had some good practices, but we just haven't been doing it in the games. Being a young team compounds things. We've been in a little skid, but we can't dwell on that."

Or on the sound of rubber clanging off iron.

"If I keep thinking about the shots I've missed," said Anderson, "then I'm getting away from the big picture, and that's helping the team win."

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