Magic’s Ryan Anderson named NBA’s Most Improved Player


UPDATE 1:40 pm: It’s official, Ryan Anderson is your NBA’s Most Improved Player.

As I said below, Anderson deserves some kudos for continuing good production this season as his minutes jumped from bench guy to starter. Not everyone can do that. Whether or not you think that should make him MIP depends on how you choose to define the most murky of NBA awards.

Here are the top five vote getters:

Ryan Anderson, Orlando (260 points)
Ersan Ilyasova, Milwaukee (159)
Nikola Pekovic, Minnesota (104)
Greg Monroe, Detroit (96)
Andrew Bynumn, Los Angeles Lakers (96)

As a sign of how screwed up the criteria for this award are, Tony Parker got a vote.

9:58 am: The Orlando Magic have called a press conference for 1:30 p.m. Friday for a “major announcement.” And we know they haven’t suddenly traded Dwight Howard.

At this time of the year it means someone will win an award — Ryan Anderson will be named the league’s Most Improved Player. Orlando Sentinel columnist Brian Schmitz has confirmed it. Anderson can start clearing off space on the mantle, or trophy case, or wherever he wants to put it.

Anderson fits the mold of players who often win this award — he didn’t so much improve as maintain his level of play as his minutes jumped from backup to starter levels. Last season he shot 43 percent, this season 43.9 percent. Last season and this season he shot 39.3 percent from three. His rebounding rate (percentage of rebounds grabbed while on the floor) and usage rate (percentage of offense he used while on floor) remained close to previous levels.

What changed is he went from playing 22 minutes a game coming off the bench to 32 minutes a game as a starter. So he went from scoring 10.6 to 16.1 points per game.

A lot of players see their efficiency drop when that happens, Anderson deserves a lot of credit for not letting this happen. Anderson is an often underrated, quality player. He is the league’s best stretch four (unless you count Dirk Nowitzki as one) and Stan Van Gundy used him very well. He knows his game and plays within himself, makes smart decisions and would fit on just about any team.

Anderson is a deserving winner of the award. I’m not a huge fan of the award in general because I think there needs to be some criteria for what we are looking for, but as it is Anderson deserves recognition. A lot of guys struggle when given a bigger role on a good team (which the Magic were until the Howard debacle) and he stepped up.

Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue sits out second half Saturday with illness

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CHICAGO (AP) Cleveland Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue remained in the locker room to start the second half of their game against the Chicago Bulls because of an illness.

Lue was on the sideline as the Cavaliers used a strong second quarter to build a 17-point halftime lead. He did not come out for the start of the third Saturday night, and he did not return to the game.

Lue has missed one other game this season due to illness. He is expected back on Monday when the Cavs host the struggling Bucks.

The Cavaliers went on to get the win over the Bulls Saturday, 114-109.

Grizzlies snap 19-game skid with 101-94 win vs Nuggets

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MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Dillon Brooks scored 24 points, Tyreke Evans added 20 and the Memphis Grizzlies snapped a 19-game losing streak with a 101-94 victory over the Denver Nuggets on Saturday night.

Wayne Selden scored 16 points for Memphis by hitting 6 of 7 shots, including 4 of 5 from outside the arc. Marc Gasol added 14 points as Memphis won for the first time since Jan. 29.

Nikola Jokic led the Nuggets with 17 points and 12 rebounds, while Jamal Murray finished with 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting. Denver shot just 37 percent overall and 27 percent from 3-point range.

Denver entered the night in ninth place in the Western Conference, a game out of the playoff race. Denver played without leading scorer Gary Harris, who is expected to miss the next few games with a right knee sprain suffered against Detroit on Thursday.

The Nuggets struggled through a miserable first half of shooting, connecting on 22 percent in the first quarter. Memphis stretched its lead to 21 early in the second quarter before Denver cut it to 53-48 at halftime.

Brooks hit four 3-pointers to start the second half and keep Memphis ahead.

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LaMarcus Aldridge’s 39 points lead Spurs past Wolves, 117-101

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SAN ANTONIO (AP) – LaMarcus Aldridge had 39 points and 10 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame a sluggish start to beat the Minnesota Timberwolves 117-101 on Saturday night.

San Antonio won its third straight to move into fifth in the Western Conference five days after dropping to 10th and out of playoff position.

Karl-Anthony Towns had 23 points and nine rebounds for Minnesota, which dropped to sixth in the West.

The Spurs had lost three straight and nine of 11 but are now unbeaten halfway through a six-game homestand.

San Antonio shot 84 percent in the second quarter, their best shooting quarter since 2010.

Two nights after battling New Orleans’ Anthony Davis on both ends, Aldridge had to take on another All-Star in Towns. Aldridge responded by leading the Spurs in scoring for the 49th time this season while helping keep Towns in check.

Aldridge scored 18 of 21 points during a five-minute stretch in the second quarter, including 12 straight. He capped the run by coming from the weak side to swat Towns’ floater deep into the seats.

Minnesota started quickly, shooting 78 percent from the floor in the first 5 1/2 minutes while San Antonio floundered at 17 percent. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich called timeout, only to watch the Timberwolves’ Jeff Teague steal the ball once play resumed.

The Spurs responded behind veteran reserves Manu Ginobili, Tony Parker, Pau Gasol and Rudy Gay. San Antonio went on a 16-4 run bridging the first and second quarters to take a 29-26 lead.

Andrew Wiggins scored 21 points for Minnesota and Teague had 16.


Stan Van Gundy goes off on officials: “We got absolutely screwed all night”

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The Pistons were likely to lose to the red-hot Trail Blazers on the road, and that came to be Saturday night 100-87, Portland 12th straight win. The Pistons shot 38.8 percent for the game and had a dreadful offensive rating of 93.8 (points per 100 possessions).

Portland is one the top five defensive teams in the NBA this season, but that’s not what Detroit coach Stan Van Gundy thought was the problem — he laid the blame on the officiating.

That’s going to be a fine.

Van Gundy is frustrated — with this game and with this season. So are Pistons fans, and seemingly so is Detroit owner Tom Gores after his lukewarm vote of confidence in Van Gundy recently. They should be, this team is a disappointment and the Blake Griffin trade was a big swing that has yet to work out. The Pistons are going to miss the playoffs. Around the league, the sense is that Van Gundy will lose his GM job to former super agent Arn Tellem, who was brought in to guide the Pistons into their new building but now whose talents would better serve the basketball side of the operation. The only question is will Van Gundy still be coaching in Detroit next season — just coaching, like Doc Rivers with the Clippers — or of the change will be more sweeping than that.