SALT LAKE CITY — Jazz coach Jerry Sloan insists he wasn't sending C.J. Miles a message when he played him just nine minutes in a loss at Memphis last Friday.
"I don't send messages that way," Sloan said. "I'm not that good. I don't even know how to text message."
Miles agrees that the limited playing time wasn't a message being sent by the boss.
"It was just the way it went," Miles said. "That's what his (Sloan's) job is. He felt that was the best way to win the game. It didn't affect me — obviously. I've been in numerous positions — coming off the bench, starting, not dressing at all. It didn't bother me. I just got ready for the next game like I did every game."
Message sent or not, Miles has responded by playing some of his best basketball of the season.
Miles had his third-straight solid game with 20 points on 8-for-13 shooting in Utah's 121-99 win over Cleveland on Friday night. He made two 3-pointers, and provided one of the game's highlights with a thunderous dunk in the second quarter that gave the Jazz a 44-31 lead.
"He got on top of the basket a couple times, made a couple of great drives to the basket," said Sloan.
But according to Sloan, Miles' scoring wasn't the most important part of his game against the Cavs.
"I think he's been better defensively," Sloan said. "He's made some shots, but more importantly, he's been better defensively, so he's not just a liability out there. He's got to help us out, and I think he's doing that. He's as quick tonight as I've seen in a game."
The quickness and defense were on display shortly after Miles made his first appearance of the game in the first quarter. The Cavs' Ramon Sessions went up for a layup, and Miles emphatically swatted it. The blocked shot led to a fast-break layup for Deron Williams.
Miles' play in the second quarter helped the Jazz put the Cavs away early. He scored seven points during a 14-0 Utah run that gave it a 49-31 lead.
Miles' performance against the Cavs capped his best three-game stretch of the season. He scored 16 points against the Rockets last Saturday, and then had 24 against the Knicks on Wednesday. The 60 points in three games tops the 56 points he scored in three games against the Magic, Mavericks and Warriors Dec. 10-13.
This three-game stretch follows a forgettable night against Memphis, where Miles had more turnovers (two) than points (none) and shot attempts (one).
"I feel good," Miles said. "I'm just being assertive, being aggressive, not necessarily thinking 'shot,' but at the same time being aggressive and getting to spaces where I can get open shots."
The fact that Miles is feeling good is a big reason why his play has been great recently. He's recovered from an illness that kept him out of three games and limited his playing time in three others.
"My energy level is really back to an NBA level," Miles said. "I'm able to just go play and not worry about coughing up my lungs while I'm trying to run. It's been fun to play that way."
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