- The Washington Times - Monday, January 23, 2006

Mike Miller, always the subject of trade rumors, played like someone the Memphis Grizzlies surely would want to keep yesterday.

Miller had his best game of the season against the Washington Wizards, scoring a season-high 30 points off the bench in Memphis’ 93-82 victory at MCI Center.

Wizards coach Eddie Jordan was so flabbergasted by Miller’s performance he made up a word to describe him: “undefensible.”

“Mike Miller just hit some impossible shots. I mean, some of them were indefensible from where I was standing,” Jordan said, this time using the correct prefix. “He made great shots, and they turned up their defense on us.”

Miller, who said he has heard his name mentioned in trade rumors involving Indiana’s Ron Artest, made 12 of 19 field goals, including four of seven from 3-point range. He said there was nothing special about his effort.

“I just got a few jumpers, and my team did a good job of setting screens,” he said. “You make some every once in a while. Today we just made some tough shots.”

Miller’s performance might have caught some by surprise but not Washington’s Gilbert Arenas.

“When you turn on the tube you see him hitting six 3s in a game, so you know he can shoot the ball,” Arenas said. “And this was just one of those nights when he caught fire.”

The loss was only the Wizards’ second in their last seven games. And if Washington were looking for something positive in the loss, it would be the continued improvement of its defense.

The Wizards have held their last seven opponents to 91.0 points a game, nine below their season average.

But yesterday, the Wizards played a team that is holding opponents to a league-low 86.8 points a game. The defensive prowess of the Grizzlies (24-15) was apparent during the final three quarters, when they held the Wizards (18-21) to just 55 points on 20-for-57 shooting.

The performance by Miller, combined with the lack of production from the Wizards’ bench (10 points), was too much for Washington to overcome.

Antawn Jamison (25 points), Gilbert Arenas (24), and Caron Butler (16) combined to score 65 points, which usually is good enough for a victory but not when the rest of the team combines for a paltry 17 points and makes just five shots.

After building a 27-19 lead after the first quarter, the Wizards squandered a perfect opportunity to bury the Grizzlies in the second period, when just about all the Grizzlies shot poorly from the field.

Everyone, that is, except Miller.

With the rest of his teammates making just three of 12 shots in the second, Miller was 6-for-8, including 3-for-3 from 3-point range.

The Grizzlies’ top-ranked defense began to click in the second quarter as Memphis started to take the Wizards out of their comfort zone.

Down by 11 after Butler converted a three-point play with 4:25 left in the half, the Grizzlies held the Wizards to just one field goal until halftime.

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