Big Win For Nuggets Is Historic For Miller


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DENVER – Never.

Not once in 36 years, one month and however many hours had Andre Miller ever hit a game-winner. He insisted. Not in 14 NBA seasons, not at the University of Utah, not at Verbum Dei High School in Los Angeles.

“Never,” Miller said Saturday evening inside Pepsi Center, now that he had. “I’ve taken a couple and missed or turned the ball over.”

Not once in stops with the Cavaliers, Clippers, 76ers, Trail Blazers and two stints with the Nuggets had he been part of a team that won a playoff series. He didn’t have to insist. It was easy to check.

“Never,” Miller said anyway. “Never won a playoff series.”

He did not cross that off the list. But he did single-handedly move Denver a step closer, and it didn’t matter that Miller was smaller and older and likely slower than two defenders between the rim and a Nuggets victory. Andre Miller against the Warriors.

Andre Miller against all odds.

With the ball out of a Denver timeout with 14.5 seconds left in the first-round opener, point guard Miller first faced Golden State rookie Draymond Green, a player Warriors coach Mark Jackson called “an elite defender” and said, “I feel extremely comfortable putting him on anybody one through five.”

Thirty-six-year-old Miller beat the elite defender off the dribble. Heading to the basket with seconds remaining before overtime at 95-95, he saw another good defender, Andrew Bogut, coming to help. Just not quick enough.

Miller finished the driving layup with 1.2 seconds remaining to will, carry and lead the Nuggets to the 97-95 victory with the clutch score, a game-high 28 points in all, 11-for-16 shooting on a day when both teams struggled to find a rhythm on offense and never came close to the up-tempo matchup most envisioned. And, finally, the game-winner. Can’t forget the first game-winner.

That it took this long to break through is no more strange, though, than Miller being in position at all. He is a slow-lane guy on a team that loves to push the ball. He is the third guard in the backcourt that starts, now that Andre Igoudala has moved to small forward to replace the injured Danilo Gallinari, fourth-year man Ty Lawson and rookie Evan Fournier.

He is exactly the guy the Warriors should have wanted to see trying to out-quick them to the basket. Except they couldn’t counter his composure, the experience at using his body to get past the first wave of defense. That made it more than Miller’s first game-winner.

That made it Miller’s latest statement.

“His passing and his winning,” Nuggets coach George Karl said when asked why he has consistently stood behind Miller. “He’s an incredible play-maker. He loves to make people better, he loves to make his team better. When the game is in that guts-and-glory situation, Andre is pretty damn great. I see things you all never see in practice, even training camp and before the season. He has such a veteran savvy or mental savvy that makes your team connect, makes your team feel good about one another, makes your team team. We don’t have many veterans on this team, but Andre is one big-time veteran.”

The Warriors, with a slower pace in their favor, missed a chance to steal Game 1 and may have lost a lot more when All-Star power forward David Lee went out early in the fourth quarter with a strained right hip flexor, an injury apparently suffered on a hard fall under the basket. X-rays taken during the game were negative, which was encouraging, but Golden State was holding off on a prognosis for the rest of the series until after an MRI on Sunday.

Miller wouldn’t let the Nuggets lose, making seven of 10 shots and scoring 18 points in the fourth quarter. He got the win. He got the memory no one can take away from him.

Never.

37 Comments

  1. Rols says:

    Not sure if anyone saw Earl Clark run behind Kawhi Leonard today and put both hands on his hips from the back side… no calls are fun, don’t play the ball, play the body

  2. evan bunt says:

    Good call by the referees on letting them play instead of calling offensive / defensive foul. Silly fouls are silly for a reason!

  3. CO Sports Rules says:

    GSW fans are the biggest complainers. There was NO foul in the play. Nuggets won the game and WILL win the series. You all are going to watch the Nuggets play the second round. Besides, the fouls favored Golden State throughout the game. GO Nuggets. GO Rockies!!!!!!!

  4. mAn says:

    Bogut should have helped faster

    End of story

  5. vincent says:

    BTW…. ANDRE MILLER IS 37 YEARS OLD… GET IT RIGHT FOR GOD’S SAKE!!!

  6. W/E says:

    how can people even think that was an offensive foul by miller, even 13 year olds play harder than NBA players when defending or protecting the ball, i guess ppl want the refs to call a foul everytime players touch each other, we would probably have a thousand fouls called on every single game. Sad GSW fans.

  7. sportsfan says:

    If your last name is Miller then you’re cleared to offensive foul while hitting a game winner. Reggie Miller pushed off of Jordan in the conference finals to hit a game winner.

    • vincent says:

      I guess then if your last name is Green, its ok to illeaglly hand check.. get over it.. it was a good no call, BOTH WAYS.. let them play and stop whinning.. there were plenty of bad calls against the Nuggets last night that prevented them from running in the first half. It probabl wouldn’t have been this close if they weren’t called.

      • sportsfan says:

        Vincent, there’s no whining here, I was making a joke (because they’re both named Miller and Reggie did it before the new millenium) but clearly that was misunderstood.

  8. iserbs says:

    Miller didn’t hook the defender, he was fighting off Green’s (illegal) hand-check. No foul.

  9. jim says:

    No help. Score deserved. Bogut’s fault. Also, Miller’s check was only a response to Green’s. No foul, this is playoff basketball now.

  10. mac says:

    It’s crazy!

  11. Fefe (Nets) says:

    No foul. Miller’s shot was clutch, end of story. Great win for the Nuggets.

    Game 2 between Denver & Golden State will be awesome

  12. kleptodathief says:

    ya, offensive hand check there, he hooked that mofo! good crossover move tho

  13. Drewskie says:

    So, now A. Mills hooked on the play? No reason to be bitter GS fans, it was a hard fought battle, and there are potentially six games coming up to make up for it. I look forward to it. Playoff basketball!

  14. LordP says:

    He missed 4 games in something like 14years of play..AMAZING..the dude is a True warrior!!

  15. Karlo Garcia says:

    Andre Miller has a high basketball IQ.

  16. Me says:

    That s pretty bad defense for an “elite” defender

  17. Baller says:

    What is with all the traveling in the nba, it has become disgusting, take these players back to high school.

  18. Dale Cooper says:

    It was a hell of a play. I hope this series goes to seven, whoever wins.

  19. One of my favourite players since his days in Philadelphia! Check out my blog for an article featuring him and plenty more, including previews of each conference playoffs. http://jessewilesmith.blogspot.com.au/2013/04/top-3-of-day.html

  20. busker says:

    If Miller didn’t hook Green’s arm, he would get a “hidden handcheck/ stiff arm” on his body, which would be a disadvantage. To counter it, players usually hook it or “hammer” it, to remove or counter the hidden handcheck tactics. You might also try to look at Green’s hand during the play. so if you are asking for a foul on that play, it should be called on Draymond Green’s handcheck.

    • NotSoNational says:

      Totally agree. The defender in the rulebook may not even touch the player with his hand when the attacker has the ball. So there shouldn’t be a call at all and if there should be a call it should be called on the Warriors. Stop the Whining it was a good game.

    • Ken says:

      Exactly. Green could have just as easily been called for a foul. ANd I think it should be obvious to anybody that both Miller’s “hook” and Green’s “hand check” are part of basketball and there was no foul to call.

  21. Bank shot king... says:

    Miller is a cerebral player and has never been one to rely on speed and athleticism….he’s been a solid TRUE point guard all his career so just cause he’s 36 years old and still playing in the SHOW proves his innate ability to be great..

  22. dealwithit says:

    GSW fans whining about Andre Miller “hooking” …. He never would have gotten that layup off if Andrew Bogut had brought the help defense. Draymond forced him left, into help defense territory, but the help didnt show. So the gamewinner is fault of the defense.

  23. Brad says:

    grabbed his the defender’s arm, should have been an offensive foul.

  24. Edub says:

    Andre Miller always hooks whenever he goes into the post. It’s just one of those supposedly called calls that really don’t get called.

  25. Randy says:

    That was an inadvertent hook that did not disadvantage the defender in anyway, great bucket andre miller

  26. Dominic says:

    Cheers to Dre!!!

  27. qimba says:

    Back in the old days they called it a “hand check”. As in, “hey son, keep your hands off me, all right?!”

  28. Carl says:

    Well-deserved.

  29. Jaye says:

    Did anyone else notice he hooked the defender on that play?

    • okso says:

      So what? It’s like Jordan’s push off. Sneaky, probably an offensive foul, but nobody is gonna call that in real time. Deal with it.

    • JBR says:

      Perhaps, but it in no way took Green out of the play, so no call.

    • Nuggsguy says:

      Did anyone notice the lack of over the back calls? Did anyone notice all the traveling without calls? Should I go on? Miller made a great drive to the basket for the game winner on top of 16 previous points in the 4th quarter. Whether there is an offensive or defensive foul with under 2 seconds left in a game the officials do not want to award free throws either way that could decide the outcome of a game.