For most of the lockout-shortened NBA season, C.J. Miles was Utah’s primary off-the-bench scorer.
He thrived in a role that is critical for any team with playoff aspirations.
But not lately.
Miles has failed to reach double figures in eight of the Jazz’s past nine games. In the past three, he has scored only 12 points on 3-for-17 shooting.
Miles’ time on the court has dipped, too.
He played only 15 minutes in Friday night’s 114-100 win over Washington, meaning he has played less than 20 minutes in five straight games.
At Saturday morning’s practice, Miles was subdued as he patiently answered questions about the unexpected turn his season has taken.
“Just keep working, do my extra work and stay mentally prepared to play the game,” Miles said, who still averages 9.3 points but shoots only 38.3 percent from the field. ...
“I just have to be aggressive. You have to be. You play every day — or every other day. So the only way to get it back is to come out aggressive [and] keep pushing. That’s all I can do.”
Miles’ situation is compounded by the fact that coach Tyrone Corbin’s regular rotation includes four other wing players.
The group includes starters Raja Bell and Gordon Hayward, along with Josh Howard, rookie Alec Burks and Miles.
Lately, Burks’ minutes have risen at the expense of Howard and Miles.
“It’s a long season,” Corbin said. “If one guy gets time, another guy’s minutes are going to suffer a little bit. Unfortunately, we can’t play everybody the same amount of minutes. ...
“We all just have to keep working at it, man. Just be patient and support your teammate when he’s in there and we’ll have him support you when you’re in there.”
Like Miles, Howard’s opportunity and effectiveness have diminished recently.
In the past five games, he has scored 10 points on 5-for-26 shooting. He has not played more than 19 minutes.
Corbin blames a four-game absence in mid-January for some of Howard’s trouble.
“He did such a good job early working his butt off to get in shape,” Corbin said. “Then he got hurt and now he’s trying to get his rhythm back.
“It’s just a process. He’ll go through some ups and downs ... but as long as he continues to work and push himself, he’ll be OK.”
After not playing in four straight games, he has scored 32 points in 53 minutes in the last three.
“It’s great to get on the court,” Burks said. “I had some DNPs before so this is good. ... I’m just trying to be aggressive, play my game and play good defense. It’s fun getting quality minutes.”
Meanwhile, Miles waits for the return of his jump shot and, he hopes, increased opportunity.
“It’s just a tough spot,” he said. “... Nobody plays a lot of minutes so, when you’re struggling a little, it’s harder to find your rhythm and get into the flow of the game. I just have to keep working and, when I find it again, keep my foot on the gas.”
at Houston Rockets
P Sunday, 5 p.m.
TV • Root Sports
Radio • 1320-AM, 98.7-FM
Records • Jazz 15-14, Rockets 17-14
Season series • First game
About the Jazz • They haven’t won two straight games since Jan. 28-30. ... This is their sixth game in 10 days, but nobody played more than C Al Jefferson (31 minutes) in Friday’s win over Washington. ... They are 5-3 in games decided by four points of less. ... They are 10-11 against Western Conference opponents.
About the Rockets • They have lost three of their last four games.