Mike Miller hits seven three-pointers as Wizards beat Knicks, 106-96

By Michael Lee
Washington Post Staff Writer
Sunday, January 31, 2010

The crowd at Verizon Center may have been smaller than usual because of some poor weather outside and some poorer play inside in recent weeks. But the few fans who opted to brave the snow and watch the Washington Wizards were graced by two of the better individual performances of the season.

With Antawn Jamison more aggressive than ever on the boards and Mike Miller more aggressive than any other time this season with his jump shot, the Wizards defeated the New York Knicks, 106-96, before a generously-announced crowd of 16,233 on Saturday night.

"I thought we would have no one here at all with the way the weather was," Coach Flip Saunders said. "I think our guys were surprised. I think our guys reacted to that with the energy that they played with."

If Jamison was on the floor and the ball was in the air, chances are he was grabbing it. Playing with tenacity and determination for nearly 45 minutes, Jamison chased down a career-high 23 rebounds and added 21 points as the Wizards snapped a four-game home losing streak. Jamison's previous best was 21 rebounds, set more than 10 years ago when he was a member of the Golden State Warriors.

Miller added a season-high 25 points, as he made seven three-pointers - including five in the third quarter, when he scored 17 points - and came one short of tying the franchise record of eight, shared by Gilbert Arenas, DeShawn Stevenson and Rex Chapman. Miller added nine rebounds and eight assists.

"I said before, 'I'm going to pick my spots on this team,' " Miller said after playing more than 43 minutes, the most since he returned from a right calf injury this month. "I think the energy was a little down there in the third quarter. I decided to be a little more aggressive."

It took less than 12 minutes for the Wizards to watch an 18-point first half lead vanish, as Jared Jeffries made a three-pointer from the right corner to tie the game at 50. David Lee later made a jumper to even the score at 52, when the Wizards when on a 12-1 run over the next three minutes. Jamison got it started with a running bank shot and back-to-back layups, Miller followed with a three-pointer and Randy Foye added a driving layup to give the Wizards a 64-53 lead.

Lee made another jumper to bring the Knicks within 10 before Miller took advantage of some wide open looks to make three more three-pointers before the third period ended. His last shot of the period put the Wizards ahead 82-67.

"They ran a zone, which is a dream for a shooter," Miller said of the Knicks. "If they are going to run a zone or if they are going to leave me open, I got to hit shots."

Saunders said that he has tried to urge Miller on several occasions to be a little less unselfish. Although he was pleased to see Miller shoot, he's not expecting too many repeat performances. "If he averages 25, 9 and 8, he'd be an MVP candidate," Saunders said with a laugh. "I don't think anybody is expecting him to do that every night. The biggest thing is, he didn't turn down too many shots."

The Wizards (16-30) had six players finish in double figures, with Randy Foye scoring 14 points and Caron Butler, Andray Blatche and Nick Young adding 10 points apiece. Lee had 24 points to lead the Knicks, who lost their fifth straight.

The Wizards have won consecutive games for the fifth time this season, but they are hoping to avoid what happened the past three times, when back-to-back wins were followed by a six-game losing streak, a four-game losing streak and a four-game losing streak, respectively. They will host the Boston Celtics on Monday.

The Wizards were coming off an 81-79 win the night before in New Jersey, where reserve guard Earl Boykins made the game-winning basket with 0.4 of a second remaining. On Friday, Boykins had 15 points and the Wizards' reserves contributed 43 points on a night when no starter reached double figures. It was the first time in franchise history that the Wizards won a game without at least one starter scoring at least 10 points. Coach Saunders said he had no problem benching ineffective players. "Whoever plays well is going to stay on the floor," Saunders said before Saturday's game. "That's the bottom line."

The Wizards responded on Saturday. They couldn't have played much better than they did in the first period, when nearly everything they tried worked splendidly. Foye whipped a pass between the legs of Jeffries to Butler on a play that ended with a Jamison layup. Miller drove down the lane for a nifty left handed layup.

Blatche came off the bench and scored six consecutive points, including taking an underhand scoop pass from Jamison for a two-handed dunk to give the Wizards a 31-17 lead. They scored the final nine points of the first period and led by 17 when Jamison tapped in his own missed layup and watched the ball bounce around the rim a few times before dropping. Jamison finished with 11 offensive rebounds.

"Last night, I was upset with my performance," said Jamison, who had just nine points against the Nets. "Different day. I just wanted to be prepared mentally and aggressive on both ends of the floor."

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