The Pacers hope other players will step up as they try to snap a five-game losing streak when they visit the Milwaukee Bucks at the Bradley Center.
Miller has averaged 27.5 points on 63 percent (19-of-30) shooting in his first two games after beginning the season on the injured reserve with a broken left hand. The five-time All-Star averages 18.4 points for his 18-year career, despite averaging a career-low 10 points a game last season.
Because of suspensions to Jermaine O’Neal, Ron Artest and Stephen Jackson, the Pacers have been forced to give Miller a lot of minutes in the two contests. Miller played 39 minutes on Tuesday and had a season-high 32 points in an 89-86 home loss to the Bucks.
“He’s showed great signs the first two games of being the old Reggie,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “But we’re not going to be able to lean on him for 26 to 32 points on a nightly basis. We’re going to have to have others step forward and score.”
“We can’t go on a steady diet of playing him 39 minutes.”
Fred Jones and David Harrison, the only other double-figure scorers on Tuesday, added 13 points apiece as the Pacers lost for the fifth straight time. It’s the longest losing streak for Indiana under second-year coach Carlisle. Indiana didn’t lose more than two games in a row last season, when it won the Central Division championship and reached the Eastern Conference finals.
Artest, O’Neal and Jackson were averaging a combined 62.5 points for the Pacers, who are 3-6 since the trio was suspensed for fighting with Detroit fans on Nov. 19.
“These guys played for the most part without me for the first month and gave everything, so I’m going to give everything I’ve got until the cavalry gets back,” he said. “I don’t care if I have to play 45 minutes a night. I have to pull my share like those guys did the first month when I wasn’t playing.”
Miller needs just one assist to join Vern Fleming as the second player in franchise history to reach 4,000.
Keith Van Horn, the Bucks’ third-leading scorer at 17.2 points a game, missed his third straight because of right ankle tendinitis. He is listed as day-to-day.
The Bucks have won three in a row and seven of the last eight home meetings with the Pacers.