MIAMI (AP) - When Chris Andersen does something particularly impressive for the Miami Heat, a heavy metal guitar riff blares through their arena. Some children have shown up for games with replicas of his tattoos drawn upon their bodies. Others have gotten their hair gelled and shaped to match his Mohawk `do.
His style is unmistakable.
His numbers are pretty eye-catching as well.
With a career that once looked like it would be inevitably cut short by his own mistakes, and in a season that started with him out of the NBA completely, Andersen has emerged into a huge piece of what the Miami Heat hope is a second straight championship puzzle. He’s shooting an absurd 83 percent from the floor in these playoffs, including a 7-for-7 effort in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals against Indiana, a series that resumes in Miami on Friday night.
“He’s perfect,” Heat guard Dwyane Wade said.
He was in the opener of this series, anyway. And the Heat _ who prevailed 103-102 in overtime, on a buzzer-beating layup by LeBron James _ needed every bit of Andersen’s 16-point effort, a postseason career-high for him and his highest-scoring game yet in a Miami uniform. The seven makes on seven attempts topped Alonzo Mourning’s previous club record for best shooting in a postseason game, one better than his 6-for-6 effort in 2007.
Forgive Andersen, who can usually be found either getting into scrums with opponents or grabbing rebounds that they’ve unsuccessfully jostled for, if he wasn’t impressed. He doesn’t care about stats at all, and wasn’t even aware that his 29-for-35 shooting so far in these playoffs _ mostly dunks and layups _ is better than anyone in the history of the league who has attempted at least that many shots in a single postseason.
“Is that what I’m shooting? OK, then,” Andersen said. “I don’t even think about that. I just basically take what the defense gives me.”
He’s the prototypical energy-and-effort guy off the bench, which is what Heat coach Erik Spoelstra was convinced his team needed. So he pestered Heat president Pat Riley for years about trying to bring Andersen _ who worked out for the club as a non-drafted, non-tattooed free agent a decade or so ago _ into the mix.
“He’s one of a kind,” Heat forward Shane Battier said. “I’ve never had a teammate like him. But he’s a great teammate.”
The Heat signed him to a pair of 10-day contracts in January, all the while knowing that he was staying for the duration of the season. And in a season of uncanny marks for the reigning champions, the numbers with Andersen are off the charts.
When he plays, the Heat are 48-4.
When he plays at least 13 minutes, the Heat are 35-1.
When he gets four rebounds or more, the Heat are 28-0.
“Rarely do we let a player like that leave our gym as a nondrafted free agent,” Spoelstra said. “But we did, watched him develop and from afar we were fans. Tried to get him two or three years ago, weren’t able to and so when the opportunity came available it was really a no-brainer for us.”