Andre Miller is doing a little bit of everything these days. Sometimes he's supporting his teammates by saying something he knows they can't
. Other times he's pointing out inequities in foul calls
(though he probably made no mention of that tonight after Portland shot 22 more free throws than Chicago). And other times, despite being mentioned in seemingly every trade scenario that involves the Trail Blazers, Miller declares in his own imperfect and misunderstood way that he'd like to "stay put"
But even though he's doing all of these things that we're not necessarily used to seeing him do, he has managed to retain the one trait that is most important to the Trail Blazers: the ability to make his teammates better. It's that part of Andre Miller that stood out Monday night against the Bulls, even on a night that saw LaMarcus Aldridge put up yet another career-high and Brandon Roy declare that he would soon return to the Portland lineup.
“Andre’s been playing like this since coming here," said head coach Nate McMillan. "It seems like as it gets deeper into the season, he gets conditioning, he starts to just play good basketball. We wanted to post Rose and make him work. The game plan was to go through LaMarcus, go through Miller, and make Rose work defensively. I thought he did a good job.”
Good probably doesn't go far enough. 27 points, 13-13 from the free throw line, 11 assists, 6 rebounds, 4 steals and a block (just his fifth of the season) while going up against one of the best players in the game in Derrick Rose is remarkable for any player, even one who Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau called "one of the best point guards in the league."
Miller being one of the best points in the NBA, especially on Monday night, has helped LaMarcus Aldridge become one of the best power forwards in the NBA. On this night, Miller helped Aldridge set his new career-high of 42 points by assisting on 7 of Aldridge's 15 made field goals. And many of the 14 free throw attempts Aldridge was awarded were direct results of Miller putting the ball in Aldridge's hands at right time.
“’Dre, he’s just a great decision maker," said Aldridge. "He was making his shot, he was giving me passes that were easy shots for me to make. So I think ‘Dre made it happen for us tonight.”
According to Miller, his ability to "make it happen" Monday night was a result of being methodical, which is a lot more difficult than it sounds, especially when going up against one of the fastest players in the league.
"We put the game in kind of slow motion for us," said Miller. "We didn't hurry it up. That's one of the better defensive teams as far as rebounding and defensive field goal percentage, so we found ways to mix up getting to the basket, transition and three-point game. We didn't have to do that too much. When you're able to get to the free throw line 40 times, it helps."
It also helps when Dre has your back.