CHICAGO -- Andre Miller speaks softly, but he was firm in assuring John Wall that he's right behind him. When Miller was acquired in Feb. 20 trade, he told the fourth-year point guard that came to the Wizards to enhance what's already there.
The Wizards had cut a 13-point deficit in to 75-72 going into the fourth quarter, and Miller had an answer each down in Game 1 vs the Chicago Bulls. He responded to a bucket by D.J. Augustin and a dunk on a lob by Jimmy Butler with consecutive field goals. He forced Augustin into a turnover. Kirk Hinrich's jumper put Chicago ahead 83-80, and Miller hit a baseline jumper. He cut to the basket without the ball and was found by Nene for the layup, getting by Augustin. It was a clinic.
"I was trying to be a bit more aggressive and make plays," said Miller, who scored eight of his 10 points in the fourth quarter. "Nene made some great passes to me cutting. Just some big shots and key rebounds and some key defensive stops collectively."
Miller, 38, had struggled when he played initially. He only was on the court for four minutes, failed to score, get an assist and tallied a turnover. Then it just clicked.
"He struggled a little bit in the first half, but having coached him before and having him back in his 15th year I know what he is capable of and I know he is going to try to do the right thing," said Wizards coach Randy Wittman, who was the head coach of the Cleveland Cavaliers for Miller's rookie season in 1999. "That segment that he had was very instrumental. It was kind of calming us a little bit. He controlled offensively the tempo for us. He is pretty crafty still at this age to get to the basket."
The other reserves, Martell Webster, Trevor Booker, Drew Gooden and Al Harrington, didn't play well. They combined for just six points.
Wall and Bradley Beal didn't have a strong shooting performance. They combined to go 7-for-25 and were content to set up their post players for shots. Miller provided the offensive burst to get them over the hump.
"I credit me and Brad with not forcing issues. We took shots, they just didn't fall," Wall said. "Andre Miller, I was about to come sub and get him at the seven-minute mark, he made a jump shot and I sit down for another two minutes until he said he really needed one. Those veteran guys are the key to what our success have been since the second half of the season."