Wizards' Mike Miller recovers from calf injury and is making an impact

"Physically I feel great," said Wizards swingman Mike Miller (6), who has returned to form after missing 21 games with a calf injury. (John Mcdonnell/the Washington Post)
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By Gene Wang
Washington Post Staff Writer
Wednesday, February 3, 2010

When the Washington Wizards acquired Mike Miller as part of an offseason trade with Minnesota, they were counting on the swingman as much for his availability as his three-point aptitude. He had, after all, played in at least 70 games in each of the previous five seasons in addition to making at least 138 three-pointers in four of those.

So no one was more dispirited than Miller himself when a calf injury forced him to miss 21 games from late November through early January. Missing a valuable part of their starting rotation, the Wizards most nights were unable to manufacture consistent three-point shooting, and their record suffered because of it.

These days, at least Miller is getting back on track. Look no further for evidence than his performance in Saturday night's home victory over the New York Knicks, whom Washington (16-31) plays again on Wednesday at Madison Square Garden.

In Saturday's game, Miller made seven three-point field goals, scored 25 points and added eight assists, all season highs. He also had nine rebounds, and the Wizards won their second in a row, 106-96.

"Physically I feel great," Miller said Tuesday after practice at Verizon Center.

Until recently, Miller has not been able to claim as much. Even before his calf injury, the 10-year veteran had missed three games this season after spraining his left shoulder against Miami on Nov. 4.

Miller came back on Nov. 14 and scored 20 points, including 4 of 7 three-pointers, in a 106-103 loss to Detroit and played two more games before injuring his calf on Nov. 21 at San Antonio.

In the Wizards' last four games, Miller has averaged nearly 40 minutes, and for the first time this season he has had consecutive games of more than 40 minutes. Miller played a season-high 43 minutes against New York and got 41 minutes, scoring 13 points on 5-of-7 shooting, in Monday's 99-88 loss to Boston in which Washington was outscored 25-10 in the fourth quarter.

"We just have to pick it up against New York and get a win," reserve guard Nick Young said.

The Knicks (18-29) have lost three in a row and seven of nine and are in 10th place in the Eastern Conference, two games ahead of Washington. Wednesday's game will be the Wizards' second of four meetings against New York.

Center David Lee leads the Knicks in scoring (19.5 points per game) and rebounding (11.5) and is third on the team in assists (3.5). In the teams' last game, Lee had 24 points, 9 rebounds and 6 assists.

New York forward Jared Jeffries, formerly of the Wizards, added 17 points and has back-to-back games scoring in double figures for the first time this season. Jeffries signed with the Knicks as a free agent in 2006.

"You at least know what they are going to do," Wizards Coach Flip Saunders said of facing the Knicks four days after beating them. "The disadvantage is you're playing on the road. But [Monday] night, we played hard, and if we continue to play hard, we'll give ourselves opportunities."

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