Paul Millsap Takes His Talents To South Beach
November 10, 2010 -
Let’s pretend you don’t already know what happened. Let me give you some key statistics from last night's Utah @ Miami game, and you tell me what outcome you would expect:
- Al Jefferson has his worst game of the season, scoring only 2 points on 1-7 shooting and spends the entire 4th quarter on the bench
- Raja Bell manages only 3 points on 1-6 shooting, his lowest output of the year
- CJ Miles hits only 5 of 14 shots including a dismal 0-6 from behind the arc
- The Jazz shoot 27% from the field in the first half and trail by 19 points at halftime
- Deron Williams fouls out
- Ronnie Price and Francisco Elson are in the lineup at the end of the game
- Dwayne Wade scores 39 points while shooting over 50%
- Lebron James posts his first triple-double in a Heat uniform (20 pts, 11 rbs, 14 asts)
- Chris Bosh exceeds his season averages in points, rebounds, assists, and blocks
- The Heat’s “big 3” combine for 76 points, 26 rebounds, 18 assists, 5 blocks, and 2 steals
- Miami attempts 47 free throws to Utah’s 21
- The Heat outrebound the Jazz and have fewer turnovers
Presented with that list of facts prior to the game, I would have guessed Utah loses by at least 20. Well, unless you’ve been living in a sports-free bubble for the past 12 hours, you know that despite the aforementioned statistics, the Jazz managed to mount a furious comeback and stun the Heat in overtime (despite trailing by 8 points with less than 30 seconds in regulation). So how in the world did this happen?
Three words: Paul Freakin’ Millsap
In one of the most impressive individual performances I’ve ever witnessed, Paul Millsap placed the Jazz squarely on his undersized-for-a-power-forward shoulders and willed them to an improbable victory. He scored 46 points (the most of any Jazz player since Karl Malone in 1998) and grabbed 9 rebounds while taking charges, playing tough defense, and doing everything but wiping sweat off the floor during timeouts.
Although most of his damage was predictably done in the paint, Millsap showcased a well-rounded offensive game, including the debut of a new weapon in his arsenal: the 3-point shot. Sap hit three clutch 3-pointers in the final minute of regulation to help force overtime. Prior to this game, he had only made two 3s in his 5-year NBA career. Jazz and Heat fans were equally stunned.
To be fair, Deron Williams (21 pts, 14 asts) and Andre Kirilenko (16 pts, 9 rbs, 7 asts) also contributed solidly to the victory, but this was Millsap’s show. Prior to the game, Chris Webber on NBA TV chose Sap as his fantasy pick of the night, stating that he believed Paul would have a strong performance against Miami’s front line. In his wildest fantasy, however, I don’t think CWebb imagined how right he would be.
Through the first 7 games, Millsap is now averaging 24 points, 11 rebounds, and 3 assists while shooting over 63% from the field. He won’t sustain this level for the entire season, but he’s already proven to be more than just a suitable replacement for Boozer at the power forward position. Millsap is a clear upgrade.