We don't really know all that much about Paul Millsap.
Just a few basics:
He's in his fourth season with the Jazz. He was a second-round pick. He went to Louisiana Tech. He led the country in rebounding there three straight seasons. He's only talked with fellow La. Tech alum Karl Malone briefly. He played quarterback in junior football leagues. He's a Saints fan. He has three basketball-playing brothers. He has a couple of kids. He was nearly hijacked by Portland last summer before signing a four-year $32 million deal with the Jazz. He learned from his mom the value of hard work. He's getting better at his job. Jerry Sloan likes him a lot.
That's about it.
And that's probably sufficient.
We know what we see on the court.
Nothing else is as intriguing or telling.
Though the back story on his re-signing is compellingly and classically Miller-esque. When the Trail Blazers made their dramatic offer to Millsap, which appeared at the time a move as much to hurt the Jazz financially as to help the Blazers competitively, Greg Miller wasn't about to simply lounge back and allow a divisional opponent to shoplift a prospect the Jazz had picked, nourished, and developed.
Miller dug in and opened up the vault to Millsap, hurtling the Jazz into the luxury-tax realm, and cursing Portland all the way: "We're going to protect what's ours," he said. "We're going to fight."
Added Kevin O'Connor: "Greg's got some of Larry in him."
Friday night made the fight a worthwhile one.
Millsap almost solitarily hauled the Jazz out of a hole in Game 3, pulling them from an 11-point deficit in the first quarter to a four-point advantage at the end of the second, boosting them on their way to a 23-point lead, and an eventual 12-point triumph over the Nuggets.
"Millsap got going and that was big for them," Carmelo Anthony said. "They were looking for a big game coming from him."
And they got it.
That one stretch could prove to be the most significant of the first round, should the Jazz get past Denver. The Nuggets looked like they were throttling forward, building their lead and their confidence, while the Jazz were comprehensively pumping shots in all directions. Then, Millsap blitzed the Nugs with clusters of drives, dekes, jumpers, squibs, twists, crossovers, scoring 18 points on nine-for-nine shooting and snagging eight boards. He finished with 22 points and 19 rebounds.
"I'm just working hard," he says. "Trying to get better."
You want elaboration? You want enunciation? You want pontification?
Get it somewhere else.
"Paul played great," said Deron Williams. "He carried us when we needed him. He was the guy who got us going. He was unbelievable. Rebounding, defending, shooting, scoring. He can do all of that. He's always had a knack for the ball. He knows how to go get it. I'm a Paul Millsap fan, always have been. All he ever needs to get big numbers is playing time."
Notable curmudgeon Sloan brightens whenever he's asked about the power forward who does his business the way Sloan prefers it done -- like a plumber on a clogged pipe.
"He's worked hard and he's going to continue to work," Sloan said. "That's how he's gotten better. He's improved his shot, and he's always been able to go after the ball, whether it's on the floor or up in the air. He's got toughness. You can't teach that."
Millsap's move from the 47th pick in the 2006 draft to the probable starting power forward for the Jazz next season has been facilitated in part by the experience he's gained in games, but even more, he said, by exhaustive offseason workouts that include a two-hour weight-training session in the early morning, followed by two hours in the gym with a shooting coach, and a two-hour scrimmage thereafter.
His greatest leap in all of that has come in his perimeter game.
Coaches and teammates have been telling him since his rookie season to pop the open shot. He seems, at last, to have understood the message and taken on the responsibility, sometimes even creating his own chances.
"I've always had a soft touch," he said. "But with the focus I've put into it, I've gained a lot of confidence. My main goal is to win. I know what to expect. I know what I have to do. I just want to work hard and win games."
hosts the "Monson and Graham Show" weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 AM The Zone. He can be reached at