Now, suddenly, that has changed. Anderson has become a three-point threat. This season he has made 8 of 17 tries for 47 percent, which is the point- production equivalent of shooting 71 percent on two-point attempts.
He's ranked seventh in the league in three-point shooting. For the moment, he's even ahead of Hawkins (13 for 34, 38 percent).
"I thought at the end of last year that I should work on the shot," Anderson said after practice yesterday. "It's paid off."
Anderson credits a lot of practice over the summer and a weight-training regimen that added about eight pounds of muscle to his upper body.
"That's made it a lot easier to get the shot up there, and the repetition has played a part in it, too," Anderson said.
What makes three-point shooting so effective for the Sixers is that they get a lot of open perimeter shots when teams put two defenders on Charles Barkley. The rest of the Sixers players spread out, swing the ball around the perimeter to find the open man and, hey, why shoot for two points when you can get an extra one?
Against the Pistons on Saturday, a three-pointer by Anderson started a rush of five straight baskets that brought the Sixers back to win.
"We swung the ball and swung the ball out of the double-team," said Sixers coach Jim Lynam. "And Detroit did a tremendous job of rotating a defender to the ball, which they do. But we didn't stop there. Then a guy penetrated, and another pass, and to Dawkins, and to Anderson. . . . We had six passes to beat terrific defense."
That's how good the Sixers' offense can be when using a small lineup that features Barkley, Anderson, Dawkins and Hawkins.
"Those four guys have been together, and they know that scheme, a scheme that has been pretty good for us for a while now," Lynam said. The challenge, according to Lynam, is to get the larger lineups to be as creative and effective.
Until that happens, look for quickness and the three-point threat when the game is on the line.
"With Charles and Hawk out there, there's no question a team has to give a defender help on one of them," Anderson said. "They have a choice to make. And all of us are going to make the right pass. If it comes to me, I'm going to take the shot. There's no question about it. The three-pointer has become a shot that I don't even have to think about anymore. It's almost like a regular shot."
In all probability, Anderson won't shoot 47 percent from beyond the arc all season long. Only four guys in the league were better than 41 percent last season.
But for now, Anderson is confident. He missed his first three tries of the season, which makes his success since then that much more remarkable.
He's a guy who played seven years in the league before becoming a three- point shooter. Just another of the mysteries of mankind revealed in the game of H-O-R-S-E.
Notes. The Sixers play tomorrow at the Spectrum against the Miami Heat. . . . Barkley sat out practice yesterday, complaining of a sore ankle, hamstring, back and foot.