Michael Brandy, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — Paul Millsap wasn't sure Wednesday if his name would be among the candidates when the 2011 NBA All-Star Game ballot is made public today.
If it is, those who have watched Millsap's development closest could contend, justice would be served.
A league source, however, said Millsap's name won't be on the Western Conference ballot — and that the four on it are point guard Deron Williams, small forward Andrei Kirilenko, big man Al Jefferson and injured center Mehmet Okur.
And if that indeed is the case …
"It would matter a little bit, you know," said Millsap, who's made a career out of being overlooked and under-appreciated. "But my main thing is winning."
Millsap's comment came after he scored 19 points and grabbed 15 rebounds in the Jazz's 98-88 win over New Jersey.
The double-double was his fifth in 12 games this season — and his disappointment with it spoke volumes as to just how far the 2006 second-round draft choice from Louisiana Tech, Utah's new starting power forward now that two-time All-Star Carlos Boozer is in Chicago, has come.
"Nineteen and 15, but I shot 5-for-15 from the field," Millsap said. "You know, that's how I look at it."
Those considering Millsap for what would be his first All-Star appearance — coaches can still pick him as a reserve — might look at the career-high 46 points he scored last week at Miami.
Or the 21.5 points per game he's averaging this season, which is 8.0 better than his previous career best. Or the team-high 9.5 rebounds he's averaging. Or how he's helped the Jazz to an 8-4 start, doing so even after being passed over time and time again in the '06 draft's opening round.
"Paul is one of those guys who just comes and works all the time," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said after Wednesday's win, one in which Millsap also dished four assists, made a couple steals and blocked one shot. "He's a pleasure to work with, because he comes and works every single day.
"He deserves a lot of credit. Well, he deserves all the credit — because he had to do all the work."
Work was precisely what Utah did Wednesday, making Millsap feel good about how the Jazz responded to a Monday loss to Oklahoma City that broke their five-game win streak.
"We were active," he said. "We got our hands on a lot of balls, deflections. Everybody was moving, helping each other on defense. That's what we need to continue to do."
On the offensive end, constant motion also was critical.
"We shared the ball," Millsap said. "The ball was moving a lot. Not (only) one guy or two guys were handling the ball. Guys were moving, setting screens and helping each other on offense. And that's what we need.
"We're at our best when that happens — when we move the ball, everybody gets the ball, passes, screens."
After falling to the Thunder, Millsap suggested, the Jazz entered Wednesday with a just-win mindset.
"We got a little complacent, relaxed," he said, referencing a win streak that featured five double-digit comebacks. "We thought we were invincible. You get like that when you win big games. But (losing Monday) leveled us down a little bit.
"We felt like we shouldn't have lost," Millsap added, "so we had to come in and make a statement."
The Jazz did.
So did Millsap, even if it may have been a tad too late to impress the ballot committee for fan voting.
Not that putting up such numbers is anything out of the ordinary lately for Millsap, from whom 20/10-type games have become almost anticipated nowadays.
"That's what people expect, but my main thing is staying consistent," Millsap said. "I've got to stay consistent throughout the year to help our team."
Contributing: Jody Genessy
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