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A push in the back proves costly for Trail Blazers' Andre Miller

By Tom Enlund

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Published: Saturday, Dec. 11 2010 9:18 p.m. MST

Iron Man's super streak fizzles out The National Basketball Association's ironman torch changed hands last week but not without some controversy.

Portland guard Andre Miller's league-high streak of 632 consecutive games played was broken when he was suspended for a game against Phoenix, leaving Los Angeles Lakers guard Derek Fisher — 435 consecutive games entering Friday — as the league's reigning ironman.

Miller was upset that he was suspended because of an incident involving Blake Griffin in a game against the Los Angeles Clippers. He said he did not think the penalty was justified.

The streak had been significant to Miller.

"It means a lot," he told reporters in Portland. "Obviously, it doesn't mean anything to the league. I take pride in it. I did what I did. I didn't think it was something that (warranted) a suspension.

"I was surprised (by the suspension). I actually wasn't even notified. I found out toward the evening when I was sleeping that there would be a suspension. It shows you how soft the league has gotten, protecting younger players. It's not like it was when I came into the league."

Moving up to second place on the active ironman list is New Orleans' Jarrett Jack with 310 consecutive games played. He is followed by Charlotte's Boris Diaw (288) and New Orleans' Emeka Okafor (278).

Guard Ray Allen holds the Milwaukee Bucks' record after playing in 400 straight from the beginning of his career (1996-'97) until missing a game at Houston on Dec. 21, 2001. He played in every game in his first five seasons. Second on the Bucks' list is Lee Mayberry with 329.

In Portland's game against the Clippers, Miller had twice been pushed in the back by Griffin during the course of a minute or so. Miller then retaliated, taking a running start across about three-quarters of the court and slamming into Griffin in the lane, sending Griffin sprawling to the court.

No foul was called on any of those three plays.

After reviewing a tape of the game, NBA vice president of basketball operations Stu Jackson issued Miller a Flagrant 2 foul and suspended him for a game for "making excessive and unnecessary contact" with Griffin.

Miller also was frustrated that he had not been allowed to state his case to Jackson, who spoke to Portland general manager Rich Cho and coach Nate McMillan on the phone.

McMillan said he was surprised by the suspension and felt that Miller's streak should have remained intact since he did not miss a game due to injury.

"I took two shots (from Griffin)," said Miller. "The referees didn't call it. I took two shots, then I gave a shot. I told the ref, 'We can call that even now.' He didn't make the call and he was looking right at it."

Still rolling along

The Dallas Mavericks, who host the Bucks on Monday, are off to a great start, and forward Dirk Nowitzki — in his 13th season with the team — is seeing things that make him believe these Mavericks are built for a deep run into the playoffs.

"It's only December, but I really like what we're doing on both ends of the floor," he said. "We should get Roddy (Beaubois) back soon and we should be even better. I really like the rotation now and how the guys responded to some early losses. It's all about the defense right now.

"If we hold teams in the low 40s (field-goal percentage) consistently, that's a big step in the right direction."

A sensitive situation

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