Winding down his last season in the NBA, Miller tries to bounce back from a forgettable final game in his home state and help the Pacers close their four-game road trip on a positive note as they meet the Utah Jazz.
Though the 18-year veteran’s role in the offense has diminished, he still can play a key role in Indiana’s success. Of their last 22 games, the Pacers have won all four in which Miller has scored more than 15 points. They’re 6-12 during that span when he doesn’t.
One of those losses, and Indiana’s fourth in five games, came Sunday as Miller went 5-of-16 from the field and 1-of-8 from 3-point range for 11 points in a 104-93 loss to the Los Angeles Lakers.
“I don’t think I played particularly well,” said Miller, who went to UCLA and grew up in Riverside, Calif. “I got a lot of good looks early, but we missed too many wide-open shots and our team got into a little rut early.”
The Pacers opened this road trip with a loss in Denver on Thursday and won at Portland the following night in their first game without leading scorer Jermaine O’Neal, placed on the injured list with a sprained right shoulder.
Sunday’s loss dropped Indiana into a tie with Philadelphia for the eighth and final playoff spot in the Eastern Conference.
“We’ve been playing every game with a sense of urgency because every game counts for us to get into the playoffs,” said Stephen Jackson, who scored 29 points Sunday. “We keep getting injuries. Jermaine got hurt the other day, so we are just trying to stay professional, keep playing, and hopefully the ball will start rolling our way.”
Like the Pacers, the Jazz are missing their leading scorer with Carlos Boozer on the injured list due to a strained right foot.
Starting with the game in which Boozer got hurt—a Feb. 14 defeat in Phoenix—Utah has lost six of nine.
The Jazz put up a good fight against the team with the league’s best record on Sunday—they were within two points in the final minute—but lost 101-94 to San Antonio on Sunday despite Keith McLeod matching a season high with 18 points.
These teams meet again next Wednesday in Indianapolis.