In his first game with the Wizards, and since Dec. 30, Andre Miller made a statement and showed a glimpse of where this team could be headed when he finally gets into top form. The rotation has changed. The offense will run smoother when John Wall goes out. And everyone seems optimistic. Half of Miller's 16 minutes came in the fourth quarter -- twice more than Wall.
"He's going to be a great mentor to John," said Nene, who tied a career high with 30 points, including the game-winning dunk to beat the New Orleans Pelicans on Saturday night. "That makes me more excited."
The Wizards (27-28) are angling for a three-game winning streak when they play at the Cleveland Cavaliers, Miller's first NBA team in 1999, on Sunday (CSN, 6 p.m. ET).
Miller, who was traded to Washington from the Denver Nuggets on Thursday after he was away from the team because of a suspension, scored five points, had three rebounds and three assists in his debut. His presence meant Garrett Temple fell out of the rotation.
Miller flashed across the lane to get the pass on the low block from Nene, immediately turning to the basket with Tyreke Evans on his back, anticipating the help defense from Jeff Whitey and splitting the defense with a pass to Kevin Seraphin for an uncontested dunk. Then there was the breakaway dunk by Bradley Beal, set up by Miller coming up with the lose ball and throwing it ahead with 7:22 left in the fourth quarter to cut the deficit to 81-80.
That set the table for Wall's return at 4:25 to close out with excellent ball pressure, two layups and two assists to Marcin Gortat and on the final play of the game to Nene.
"I've got some shooters I can play with. Martell (Webster) and some athletes with (Trevor) Booker and Seraphin banging around so I think I'm going to try to get the ball up quicker, speed up the tempo, stabilize the bench a little bit more," said Miller, who didn't have his legs on a few shots that came up short. "It's probably going to take a week. My wind was cool. I'm not going to worry about the offense. ... If I feel like I need to get a shot up I'll just go down to the post and put up something easy. But the legs will come."
Booker had an interesting observation of a key difference between Wall and Miller, 37. But the result is the same.
"Playing with him one game you can tell how intelligent he is. His basketball IQ is off the charts," Booker said. "John likes to push the ball up the court. Andre, he likes to pass the ball up the court. Either way it gets up the court quick. He's not as quick as John, but it's the same thing."
Said Wall: "That's a guy you can learn from. It's a guy that loves the game and is still playing at 37. I hope I can be playing at 37."