Spurs’ Anderson showing skills

By Tim Griffin

If Chauncey Billups’ whining at the end of the third quarter Wednesday was any indication, James Anderson is returning a favor for a lot of guards around the NBA.

Anderson dropped in a three-point play on the final sequence of the third quarter, hitting a 14-foot jumper and a foul shot that prompted some complaining by Billups.

“I played a little bit with Chauncey in the summer in Vegas and kind of picked up on some of his stuff,” Anderson said. “It felt good to give him some.”

With Gary Neal out of the rotation as he recovers from an appendectomy, Anderson had his second straight strong game as the Spurs’ first backcourt reserve. Anderson scored 12 points in 21 minutes, building on a nine-point effort against Memphis in the opener.

It represented a big turnaround from Anderson’s rookie season, when he struggled finding a place in the rotation as he battled injuries.

“Anytime I get in, I want to show them what I can do,” Anderson said. “If the minutes are there and I get to step on the floor, I’m going to play hard on both ends.”

Anderson’s fast start has caught the attention of Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.

“James is playing with a lot of confidence and aggressiveness, and he’s got a lot of that pent-up after basically sitting out the whole year last year with injuries,” Popovich said. “He’s jumped on this opportunity and done a real nice job.”

Better shooting: The Spurs had a strong turnaround after shooting only 39.8 percent from the field against Memphis in the opener, making 56.3 percent vs. the Clippers.

They were especially potent in the pivotal third quarter when four consecutive baskets by Tony Parker and Anderson’s late basket helped put the game away. San Antonio finished the third quarter hitting 76.2 percent from the field.

“We made a lot of shots,” said Manu Ginobili, who led the team with 24 points. “I don’t think it’s normal after two games and a very short training camp to have this kind of percentage like today. But they went in.”

Welcome rest: The Spurs were able to rest Parker in the fourth quarter and limit Tim Duncan to only 2:44 with the game safely at hand. It was an ideal ending to the first part of the Spurs’ first back-to-back of the season. They play tonight in Houston.

“You wouldn’t trade it, that’s for sure,” Popovich said.

A learning experience: The 1994-95 Spurs team was laden with future coaches. Clippers coach Vinny Del Negro was among a group that included New Jersey coach Avery Johnson, Boston coach Doc Rivers and Los Angeles Lakers assistant coach Chuck Person.

“We’ve got a lot of students of the game, I guess you would say,” Del Negro said. “Those guys are good friends of mine and colleagues. We bounce things off each other, and we’re all very competitive, but I always want those guys to do well, just not when they’re playing us.”

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