Cohen Courtside: Magic at Knicks (1/16/12)
By Josh Cohen
January 16, 2012
In Cohen Courtside, Josh Cohen examines the state of the Orlando Magic after games this season. He will tackle sidebar storylines and focus on topics that stretch far beyond the box score. There will also be some analysis on league-wide subjects.
NEW YORK -- It’s the most sensational exaggeration I will make all year, but when in the visiting locker room at the historic, yet recently renovated Madison Square Garden interviewing Ryan Anderson, I started reminiscing one of the utmost memorable performances in NBA history.
It was Game 5 of the 1997 NBA Finals when Michael Jordan, suffering from the flu, delivered an unforgettable 38 points to catapult the Bulls to a critical win over the Jazz.
No, Anderson’s outstanding effort on Monday in Orlando’s resilient victory over New York in which the ever-developing 6’10 forward poured in a career-high 30 points was not as significant nor exceptional as Jordan’s.
But with his ailing voice and persistent cough conspicuous throughout the locker room, Jordan’s “flu-game” immediately popped into my head.
Anderson claims it’s just a common cold he has – though I would suggest it sounds more like a case of laryngitis. I’m no doctor, however.
What I can confirm is that Anderson, like he has done a few times this season, rose to the occasion when the Magic’s chief luminaries struggled and rescued Orlando.
Aside from his extraordinary offensive output, in which he buried a career-best 11 field goals and seven 3-pointers, Rhino, as he is affectionately nicknamed, helped limit Amar’e Stoudemire to just 10 points and two rebounds.
"I wasn't feeling very good before the game, but I just went out and played and I think the adrenaline takes over and you know, I've done it before, played sick before," Anderson said with a crackle in his voice.
After another superb effort and with Atlanta’s Al Horford presumably out for the season with a shoulder injury, it’s becoming more possible for Anderson to be named an Eastern Conference All-Star reserve.
Even if you assess players based on their career resumes, it’s still realistic for Anderson, who leads the NBA with 43 3-pointers made, to earn a spot. After Kevin Garnett, Stoudemire and Chris Bosh, is there another power forward in the East who has the credentials to be named to the All-Star team based on past merit?
There is no doubt that he is the early favorite to claim the Most Improved Player award and, especially with All-Star Weekend held in Orlando this year, should have the opportunity to compete in the Foot Locker Three Point Contest.
"My teammates do a great job of finding me," Anderson said. "It's part of our plan because when Dwight sucks in the defense, they have a choice if they want to give up an open 3-pointer or a wide open dunk."
- When you watch Dwight Howard work on his free throws after practices or during pregame warm-ups, he essentially makes about 90 percent of his attempts. In games, however, it’s a significant decrease (currently at 44 percent for the season).
Therefore, Howard’s struggles at the line must be a result of something more mental. He was 2-of-9 from the stripe on Monday and you can’t help but wonder if D12’s distractions regarding his future are affecting his concentration.
- Throughout his career, Hedo Turkoglu has adored the fourth-quarter spotlight. He enjoys taking shots when they matter most. It was apparent on Monday when Turk connected on two crucial 3-pointers in the final frame and was in indefatigable attack mode.
- During the Vince Carter era and now in the midst of the Jason Richardson period, J.J. Redick has always flourished when an injury to the man in front of him in the rotation had to miss a game due to injury.
With J-Rich out as a result of a bruised knee, Redick delivered a marvelous performance in the starting role with 21 points on 8-of-12 shooting. While Anderson is indubitably the frontrunner for the Most Improved Player honor, it wouldn’t be unimaginable for Redick to capture the Sixth Man of the Year award.
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