Andre Miller's 52 points, shot by shot
On Wednesday I wrote about the The State of the Blazer Union. In many ways it paralleled the world of politics. The Blazers were spiraling down just like Congressional approval ratings. For both, the immediate future looked bleak. Their leaders seemed to have disappeared (at least Portland knew where to find theirs: on the bench with a balky hamstring). Like American politics, the Blazers were suffering from an inspiration gap.
And just as Barack Obama stepped up to provide that inspiration in his State of the Union address (and the enthralling Q&A with the Republican caucus) so did Andre Miller in Dallas. With his scintillating 52 point performance, Miller gave the Blazers something they had lost: hope.
After the numerous, seemingly-improbable wins they have posted this season, I've posited that the Blazers should be expected to compete, if not win, in most any situation. But the three game losing-streak last week started giving me the fear. The hangover from Monday's loss against New Orleans--a game the Blazers gave away in distressing fashion--hurt more and lasted longer than anyone wanted to admit. It was the moment hope dissolved.
But with his incredible performance, Andre Miller brought the Blazers back from the brink. Still, anything is possible. The fear is gone. (Miller also saved Portland from a four-game losing streak--something that didn't happen all of last season.)
For Miller in Dallas it was as if the law of averages included only four games--all those shots he missed in the three games preceding were returned in full Saturday by the Shot-Karma Payback Plan.
On that, our pal at ESPN Mark Bowers sent over the following:
Andre Miller came into Saturday night's contest at Dallas in a 4-game slump; he had scored just 26 points while making 22.6% (7-31) of his shots during the stretch. Saturday night he shot 71.0% (22-31) against the Mavericks.
The key to Miller's success on Saturday was a much improved jump shot. After making just 15.0% (3-20) of his jumpers over the past four games, he was 14-20 (70.0%) on Saturday.
Andre Miller Jump Shots 5-16 ft 17+ ft Season 34.3 32.0 Last 4 23.1 (3-13) 0.0 (0-7) Saturday 69.2 (9-13) 71.4 (5-7)
One thing perhaps lost in the wash of Andre's career night was the disappointing play of LaMarcus Aldridge. As the game hung in the balance I found myself compiling a list of instances where Aldridge nearly blew the game. They are as follows:
- Bricking two critical free throws.
- Poor defense on Dirk Nowiztki, including a jaw-droppingly stupid poke in the eye while the Dallas forward was standing still. The following free throws helped the Mavericks force overtime. (Once Nic Batum was substituted to guard Nowiztki, he did not score again. Nice for Batum, but if Aldridge is the franchise power forward, the defensive gap is a huge point of concern.)
- Missing a potential game winner.
Although there may be controversy in some spots on the floor, it's nice to know after Saturday, the point guard position is finally settled. And for the immediate future, until Brandon Roy returns--which could be sometime this week--hope has returned.