AP Photo/The Canadian Press, Chris Young
The book on Ryan Anderson is simple. He shoots three-pointers.
Mind you, that’s not to sell Anderson short as a player. He’s an excellent offensive rebounder. He rarely turns the ball over. But at the end of the day, his greatest strength is his three-point shooting.
Which is why it’s odd that the Toronto Raptors allowed Anderson to set a new career-high for three-pointers made in a game with eight. This isn’t the same Raptors team from last season. The one that ranked 30th in Defensive Rating. This is a squad, Toronto, led by head coach Dwane Casey that prides itself on defense. The proof is in the pudding. This season, the Raptors rank 15th in the NBA in Defensive Rating. Yet none of that mattered against the Orlando Magic, especially Anderson.
Anderson had his way on offense against Toronto, scoring 28 points on 9-for-15 shooting from the floor (including 8-for-13 from the three-point line). Many of Anderson’s three-point shots were clean looks, generated mostly from pick-and-roll or pick-and-pop sets. Time and again, the Magic would run those types of plays with Anderson involved either as a screener or spot-up shooter. Time and again, he would make the Raptors pay for leaving him open.
There was one possession in particular, which took place in the opening moments of the third quarter, that was mind-boggling. After Anderson made six three-pointers in the first half, you’d have to imagine that Casey told his players in the locker room at halftime to account for Anderson on the perimeter. Yet early in the third quarter, Anderson found himself wide open in the left corner for a three-point shot, which he made.
Granted, Orlando executed a sneaky play of sorts, setting two pin-down screens (by Dwight Howard and Anderson) for Jason Richardson on the left block in the hopes of freeing him up for a shot near the left elbow or perhaps triggering something else on the play. Instead, after Anderson set his screen, he snuck into the left corner, Bargnani lost sight of him momentarily, and he made his seventh three-pointer of the game. But how does that happen? How do you lose track of Anderson like that?
Toronto is still probably trying to find out.
Thing is, that’s what Anderson does and that’s what makes him such a difficult cover for a majority of the teams in the league. Not all, but most.
The Raptors were the latest victims.
MVP (Most Valuable Player)
Some lazy team defense from Toronto contributed to Anderson’s big night from behind the three-point line. Anderson set a new career-high with eight three-pointers made in a game.
LVP (Least Valuable Player)
Bargnani was the main reason that Anderson was able to punish the Raptors’ defense on the perimeter. Bargnani was unable and sometimes unwilling to account for Anderson. That hurt Toronto defensively.
Turnovers have been a big issue for the Magic over the last several weeks. Not so much against the Raptors. With a renewed emphasis on taking care of the ball, Orlando committed just nine turnovers.