NEW ORLEANS — New Orleans Hornets forward Ryan Anderson will get another shot at the NBA All-Star Saturday Night Three-Point Contest, and he’s looking build on last year’s experience.
Anderson, who was leading the league in 3-pointers made with 147 heading into Friday night’s game at Atlanta, was one of six players selected Thursday night for the contest.
Participants include Anderson, San Antonio Spurs power forward Matt Bonner and Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry from the Western Conference, and Indiana Pacers small forward Paul George, Cleveland Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving and New York Knicks shooting guard Steve Novak from the Eastern Conference.
Anderson, who played with the Magic last season, is the only returnee from last year’s competition in Orlando, won by Timberwolves power forward Kevin Love in a tiebreaker round against Oklahoma City Thunder small forward Kevin Durant.
Anderson didn’t get past the first round, but that experience could help him this time.
“It’s harder than it looks,” said Anderson, who led the league with 166 made last season and was selected the NBA’s Most Improved Player. “Obviously, you’re not used to shooting off of a (ball) rack, and the timing has to be right.
“I had two shots at the end to advance to the next round, and I missed both of them. So, I had to get that timing a little bit better. I’ll have to focus on the timing (this time).”
Anderson, who leads the Hornets in scoring at 16.8 points per game although he mainly has come into games off the bench, is shooting 39.7 percent on 3-pointers. His 3-pointers represent 43.7 percent of the Hornets’, the highest percentage of a team’s 3s in the league by one player. He is on track to break the franchise record for 3s in a season held by Peja Stojakovic (231 in 2007-08).
“(Participating in the contest) is something that as a shooter is a high honor, something that is special, one of those things you look back on, and it’s a surreal moment,” Anderson said.
Hornets backup shooting guard Roger Mason has had impressive performances this season from the 3-point line this season.
He will be in Houston, too. However, it will involve something that may end up in court as opposed to on court.
Mason is the Hornets’ representative to the NBA Players Association, and the league’s team reps will convene concerning how to go forward in the wake of union executive director Billy Hunter being been placed on indefinite leave of absence. A report by an independent firm found fault with the business practices under Hunter’s leadership, although no illegal use of union funds were found.
Union officials visited the Hornets at the team’s practice facility last week.
“The most responsible thing is to get all the information,” said Mason, who is in his 10th year in the NBA. “And, when we go to Houston, we will be able to iron some things out.”
The plan, Mason said, is to allow for anyone to be heard on the matter, “and make some key decisions.”
Asked if a vote will take place then to permanently remove Hunter, Mason said he did not know all the details.
The report on Hunter was requested by union president Derek Fisher. The two often clashed during the owners’ lockout of the players from July-November 2011. Mason said he hoped it isn’t personal, but that the union has a job to protect the players.
Meanwhile, Hunter, who has headed the union since 1976, remains respected and popular among the league’s players, according to media reports.
“There is a difference between being respected and popular and (the union representatives) figuring out what’s the best for the players to do,” Mason said. “We all have a lot of respect for Mr. Hunter and what he has been able to do for our union, but there are definitely some question marks.”
Playing with pain
With his rugged style of play, one might not realize that backup center/power forward Jason Smith continues to be bothered by a shoulder injury — his right, shooting one, nonetheless.
Smith injured the shoulder while attempting to block a drive by the Thunder’s Durant in a game at Oklahoma City on Dec. 12. Smith has a torn labrum and is resigned to the fact he will be in discomfort the rest of the season.
“It’s just something you have to deal with as best you can,” he said. “I can’t do anything about it until I get surgery. It’s nothing that’s going to get better; probably will get worse. You just have to get with the training staff.”
Asked if it was uncomfortable shooting, he said, “Not at the moment.”
“Somedays it’s loose, somedays it’s not.”