ADVERTISEMENT

ADVERTISEMENT

Miller heating up for Miami

Mike Miller had the No. 9 play on SportsCenter's Top 10 Tuesday night. The Mitchell native and shooting guard for the NBA's Miami Heat had a putback dunk in a game against the New York Knicks that even had teammate LeBron James in awe. Miller pla...

Mike Miller had the No. 9 play on SportsCenter's Top 10 Tuesday night.

The Mitchell native and shooting guard for the NBA's Miami Heat had a putback dunk in a game against the New York Knicks that even had teammate LeBron James in awe.

Miller played 37 minutes and scored 18 points in the 102-90 loss to New York the night he was featured on SportsCenter. But this performance wasn't just a one-hit wonder for the former Mitchell Kernel. Lately, Miller's been putting up steady numbers.

Three days after Miller scored 18, which was a season-high, he scored 26 points in Miami's 89-79 win over the Charlotte Bobcats Friday night.

In the past six games Miller's played, he's scored 75 points and recorded a total of 30 rebounds. This run marks the most balanced stretch of basketball Miller has played all season, and quite possibly his best basketball since joining the Heat.

ADVERTISEMENT

Friday's team-high of 26 points was the most points Miller has scored in a single game since Jan. 22, 2011, when he scored 32 points for the Heat in a win over Toronto. In the past three games, Miller has scored 56 points, something he's never accomplished in a three-game stretch with Miami.

"I hadn't done anything all year," Miller told Fox Sports after Tuesday's loss. "So I've got a lot of energy. I'm healthy. It's been the first time in the last three years. So I feel good."

Recent regular playing time started for Miller on March 24 in a game against the Charlotte Bobcats. He finished with six points, four assists and three rebounds. It was his first start since Dec. 28. In that game, Miller started in place of Dwyane Wade, who has missed time due to several minor injuries.

Miller was in the starting lineup in four of the next five games, helping the Heat to road victories over Orlando on March 25, New Orleans on March 29 and San Antonio on March 31.

Miller did not play in Miami's loss to the Chicago Bulls on March 27. That loss snapped Miami's longstanding win streak at 27 games, second longest in NBA history behind only the 1971-'72 Los Angeles Lakers' 33 straight wins.

Two nights after the loss to the Bulls, the Heat had Miller back in the starting lineup against Charlotte, a game where he scored 12 points and recorded five assists.

But Miller topped that twice this week. Against the Knicks on Tuesday, he scored all 18 of his points in the first half and added eight rebounds and four assists. It was his highest scoring total since his NBA Finals performance in Game 5 last year when he scored 23 in the championship-clinching victory.

Then, he recorded 14 first-half points Friday night and added a dozen in the second half for 26. It was his 10th start of the year and the seventh time this year he's scored in double figures. He rounded out his game with five rebounds and four assists in 30 minutes of court time.

ADVERTISEMENT

Earlier this year things weren't going well for Miller. During one stretch, he went without scoring from Jan. 26 to March 24. That included not playing in 19 of 28 games and getting mop-up time in others.

Now, the Heat (59-16) are resting stars like Wade and James before the playoffs since they have the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference locked up, giving Miller more chances to show his talents before the playoffs.

After the loss Tuesday, Miller was asked if he believes his role in the playoffs could expand.

"We've got a pretty good rotation going," said Miller, who was averaging 3.7 points, 2.3 rebounds and 1.4 assists per game this year before Friday's game. "It's a rotation that won 27 games in a row, so right now my job is to fill in until the end of the season. If (Heat coach Erik Spoelstra) calls on me in the playoffs, it would be a lot of fun."

Friday was the 14th time he's started for the Heat since signing a five-year, $30 million contract with the team in the summer of 2010. Since his arrival in Miami, he's played in 132 of a possible 223 games, missing time because of injuries and illness.

In his postgame interview after the loss to the Knicks, Spoelstra said he's been pleased with how Miller has played as of late.

"You're happy for that, one, he's healthy at this time of year," Spoelstra said. "Secondly, he has a unique skill set because he can not only shoot the basketball from three and deep, but he can put the ball on the floor and he's a very good rebounder. And I think you saw the whole package (against the Knicks)."

The Heat have seven regular-season games remaining before starting their title defense. At 6:30 p.m. today, Miller and the Heat take on the Philadelphia 76ers.

Related Topics: BASKETBALL
Luke Hagen was promoted to editor of the Mitchell Republic in 2014. He has worked for the newspaper since 2008 and has covered sports, outdoors, education, features and breaking news. He can be reached at lhagen@mitchellrepublic.com.
What To Read Next
Prep basketball action from around the state from Saturday, Feb. 4.
South Dakota State running away with regular season title
A strong second quarter in which the Kernels outscored Spearfish 22-9 proved critical.
Iowa State-bound JT Rock isn't the only one lighting it up for No. 2 Patriots