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Memphis Grizzlies’ Mike Miller (13) drives past Oklahoma City Thunder’s Perry Jones (3) in the second half of an NBA basketball game Dec. 11 in Memphis, Tenn. (AP photo)

Mitchell native Mike Miller taking on added role for the Grizzlies

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After playing a limited role in his third season off the bench for the NBA champion Miami Heat last year, Mitchell native Mike Miller is back with the Memphis Grizzlies and playing an increased role.

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Miller, 33, changed teams for the sixth time to start the 2013-14 NBA season and is in his second tour of duty with Memphis, after winning back-to-back titles with the Heat.

“The return to Memphis has been great and it’s been a smooth transition back,” Miller said Wednesday in an interview with The Daily Republic from Houston where Memphis lost 100-92 Thursday. The Grizzlies are back in action tonight against Denver in Memphis.

After playing a career-low 15 minutes per game last season for the Heat, Miller is seeing more time on the court with the Grizzlies, averaging over 23 minutes per contest. For his career, the forward is averaging 29 minutes per game.

“Obviously, everyone’s goal is to play and to win,” Miller said about his added playing time. “My goal is always to win games.”

The Grizzlies have struggled to stay in the playoff race thus far. The team has a record of 12-16 and is 13th out of 15 teams in the NBA’s Western Conference.

After facing hand and back injuries that plagued him prior to last season, Miller says he feels strong.

“I feel great and my body feels good,” Miller said. “Knock on wood, but I’ve felt great the last two years. We have to make sure we keep working on it and stay healthy as much as possible.”

Miller has played in all 28 games this season for the Grizzlies and got his first start of the season Dec. 18 against the Dallas Mavericks, when he scored eight points and grabbed four rebounds in nearly 30 minutes of playing time.

This year, Miller is averaging 7.1 points, 3.4 rebounds, 1.6 assists per game and is shooting 45 percent from the field.

The long-range specialist has also made 40 of his 89 three-point attempts and is 84 percent from the free-throw line.

“Right now, I’ve been getting minutes and it’s been fun to just get back out there and play again,” Miller said.

The Fourth Annual Mike Miller Classic continues today at the Corn Palace in Mitchell, with five games starting at 1:30 p.m. Miller will not be in attendance due to the Memphis Grizzlies’ schedule.

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