JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Ryan Anderson’s slow, arduous journey to regain the form he had a year ago at this time took another step in a positive direction on Wednesday.
Anderson played just under 23 minutes and scored 14 points but couldn’t prevent the Washington Wizards from posting a 94-89 win over the Pelicans in a preseason game at the Veterans Memorial Arena in Jacksonville.
Anderson hit just 4-of-13 shots from the field but added six free throws in seven attempts for his 14 points. He missed all four of his three-point shots. Anderson did grab seven rebounds, one behind team leader Anthony Davis’ eight.
Anderson is looking to return to the form he was at during the early stages of the 2013-14 season. The sixth-year veteran had a career-best 19.8 average going after 22 games before “the collision” took place. In a game against the Boston Celtics, Anderson collided with Celtics’ Gerald Wallace. The jarring impact sent Anderson sprawling to the floor, and he was eventually removed on a stretcher. He was later diagnosed with a herniated disc that wasn’t corrected until he underwent surgery in April.
Physical therapy and months of rehab followed. Finally in August, Anderson was given the green light and pronounced 100 percent recovered.
“I feel great. There’s no affects whatsoever on the court,” Anderson said. “I missed a lot of conditioning time over the summer that I’m trying to make up for but I’m getting there, one step, one game at a time.”
“My shot feels good, I’m OK with that. It’s mostly my legs and getting my timing down. But I’m confident that once the season gets going, I’ll be ready to go. Anderson is just glad to have the opportunity to play the game he loves so much.
“I’m just happy to be playing again,” he said. “Before the injury last year, I was playing with a lot of confidence and a lot of fun. It was probably the most fun I had had in my six years in the league.
“I’m in a similar mind set now. The moment I got cleared, it was a great moment because it meant I could do something that I love to do. It’s something that’s second nature to me, that I’ve been doing my whole life. To have that scare of maybe never playing again, that was some real fear.”