Paul Millsap stood by himself on Monday morning before Utah’s practice, lazily shooting free-throws, preparing himself for the daily grind.
A ballboy came by and asked him if he had missed any. Millsap shook his head in the negative and swished another.
Indeed, the Jazz power forward hasn’t been missing much these days.
In four games this past week, Millsap averaged 22 points and 10 rebounds per game as Utah went 3-1, with its lone loss coming at the hands of the Dallas Mavericks, the defending NBA champions.
More importantly than the statistics is the competition he’s faced. Dirk Nowitzki, Blake Griffin, Kevin Love — three of the premier power forwards in the game. It can be argued that Millsap outplayed all of them.
“I don’t look at it as an individual thing,” Millsap said. “The most important thing for me is that we got three wins. And I was happy with the way we won games. We have been working together, and not working as individuals.”
Millsap had much to do with those wins. All three of those guys are bigger and heavier than him, but Millsap has expanded his game so much that offensively he’s almost a hybrid small forward in the body of a power forward.
And it has showed.
He put the ball on the floor and went around all three. His jumper is now consistent from up to 20 feet. He’s slimmer than he has been in the past, and he hasn’t sacrificed any of the strength or athleticism that made him successful when he first came into the league.
Millsap and Al Jefferson, after running into each other last year, have complemented each other nicely in Utah’s 10-5 start to the season. With Jefferson occupying the low post, Millsap has roamed and made himself a headache to deal with for most opposing power forwards.
“They’ve done a great job of reading each other offensively and defensively,” Jazz coach Ty Corbin said. “They have played together for a year so they know where the other is going to be. They’ve played very well together.”
Watson could have dental surgery
Jazz back-up point guard Earl Watson said on Monday that he would likely have surgery over the all-star break to repair a missing tooth. The tooth fell out on Saturday night against the Timberwolves, when Watson took a charge and an elbow at the same time.
Josh Howard is still listed as day-to-day, but he practiced without restriction on Monday morning for the first time since injuring his quadriceps tendon
Favors begins appeal
Derrick Favors confirmed that he and his agent on Monday started the appeal process of his $25,000 fine for throwing the ball into the stands against the Dallas Mavericks last Thursday. Favors, who was ejected for his action, declined to comment specifically on the matter.
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