Millsap delivers again in Boozer's absence
Paul Millsap continues to do a masterful Carlos Boozer impression.
In his second start for the injured Boozer, Millsap finished with 25 points, nine rebounds and four blocked shots in the Jazz's 104-92 win over Dallas on Monday night at EnergySolutions Arena.
Millsap dueled the Mavericks' perennial All-Star and MVP candidate, Dirk Nowitzki, to a near standoff.
Nowitzki finished with 28 points and eight rebounds -- not nearly enough to prevent Millsap & Co. from posting an energy-filled win.
"It's fun to watch guys play hard," said Jazz coach Jerry Sloan.
In the first quarter, Millsap scored 12 points on 4-for-4 shooting.
His teammates were a combined 5-for-14, so Millsap's quick start prevented Dallas for taking early control of the game.
"He was really alive," Sloan said.
Significantly, Millsap's four field goals in the first quarter came on a layup, an 8-footer and a pair of 18-foot jumpers -- the kind of shot he might not have made earlier in his career.
"I've put in extra time, working on it," Millsap said. "The coaches have confidence in me to go out and shoot it, and my teammates have confidence in me to pass me the ball. All that goes hand-in-hand, and now, when I get it and have an open look, I'm going to shoot it."
Said Sloan: "That makes a huge difference, when the other team has to come out on the floor and guard you."
Millsap picked up his second and third fouls on consecutive possessions late in the first half, but he got to the fourth quarter with only those three.
That set the stage for a furious finish by the Jazz, who pulled away with a lineup that included Andrei Kirilenko and Millsap at the power positions.
Asked about the Jazz's relatively small frontcourt, Kirilenko said, "Size-wise, we aren't as big than most of the teams. But for quickness, we are probably the fastest. So we use that. ...
"It doesn't work always. If you have a team like Cleveland with Shaq [O'Neal] and [Zydrunas] Ilgauskas, it's going to be tough. But with Dallas it can work because they play a smaller team around Nowitzki."
Still, when Boozer returns from a calf injury, Millsap expects to return his sixth-man role. It doesn't sound like he'll mind.
"It's going to be good for the playoffs -- to have guys like Wesley Matthews come of the bench, C.J. Miles come off the bench, myself come off the bench," Millsap said. "It's going to be real crucial for us to continue to play like we're playing."
Paul Millsap's statistics in the last two games, when he started in place of the injured Carlos Boozer: