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News » 'Freer' Miller looks like old self


'Freer' Miller looks like old self


'Freer' Miller looks like old self
Mike Miller's 19-foot jumper to beat the Thunder on Friday was a feel-good moment for the first-year Timberwolf and his victory-starved team. But the 16 shots Miller took before that game-winner might have been even more significant.

Miller hit eight of 17 shots in Oklahoma, and was noticeably more willing to assert himself at the offensive end. Along with a 10-for-19 night against the Spurs three weeks ago, it was just the second time since coming to Minnesota on a draft-night trade that Miller resembled the perimeter gunner he had been in Memphis.

"He got into a nice rhythm and took some good shots," said forward Craig Smith. "He can make them."

He can if he takes them, but that's been the catch for Miller in Minnesota. The 6-foot-8 swingman is a career 46 percent shooter, and 40 percent from three-point range. But Miller has tried to work his way into the Wolves' offense slowly this year, and has passed up shots he didn't hesitate to try in his previous nine NBA seasons.

In fact, Friday's game was just the fourth time Miller has taken 10 or more shots - something he managed 50 times in the 70 games he played for the Grizzlies last year. His field-goal attempts have declined from 11.7 per game in Memphis to 9.2 with the Timberwolves.

"Players go through ups and downs, and he's gone through a little of that," said coach Randy Wittman, who has encouraged Miller to look for his shot. "Last night, he played a little freer than he has. For him knocking down that (last shot), it was perfect for him, for his confidence."

And for his spot in Wolves' history, too. Miller's shot, which dropped through the basket with one-tenth of a second remaining, marked the 20th time a Minnesota player has sank a game-winning shot with less than a second left. It's the first time it has happened since March 25, 2007, when Kevin Garnett (who managed the feat a team-high four times) beat Portland, 94-93, at the buzzer.

McCants update: Rashad McCants' back spasms have subsided, but his playing time hasn't recovered yet from his absence. McCants didn't get off the bench in Oklahoma City on Friday, and Wittman didn't exactly guarantee that the fourth-year guard would remain a major part of his rotation.

"He's just got to stay ready. Tonight could be completely different," the coach said. "Today's a different day."

McCants played 10 minutes on Wednesday against the Suns, yet took six three-pointers in that short stint (and made four), and turned the ball over five times. So perhaps it was no coincidence that McCants, who averaged 21.4 minutes through Minnesota's first seven games, didn't get off the bench on Friday.

Wittman, however, said "it was just a coaching decision, just one of those feelings. I liked our rotation." And when the Wolves took a second-quarter lead against the Thunder, "I didn't want to put a stop to that rhythm."

Briefly: Guard Kevin Ollie missed his sixth straight game with a strained right calf.

The Wolves leave Sunday for a weeklong road trip to Eastern Conference arenas, beginning Monday in Charlotte, then moving on to Orlando and New Jersey.


Author: Fox Sports
Author's Website: http://www.foxsports.com
Added: November 30, 2008

 

 
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