SALT LAKE CITY — Paul Millsap jokingly posed the question to C.J. Miles after a lengthy shower following the Jazz's 83-78 win over the Charlotte Bobcats.
He looked at his right hand — which features a sprained thumb and an odd-looking pinky — and then glanced at his left hand. That hand now has a pinky that was dislocated in the first quarter of Monday night's win and was reduced (popped back into place).
"How am I going to shoot?" Millsap asked.
It was a good question, considering how mangled Millsap's hands currently are. He was able, however, to use the two beat-up hands to secure Utah's victory late in the game.
With the Jazz leading 79-78 in the final minute, Millsap collected two offensive rebounds on the same possession. After his second board, he was fouled and sank two free throws to give Utah an 81-78 lead with 42 seconds left in the game.
The game's outcome was still in doubt before Millsap's two rebounds. The Bobcats had momentum and the ball while trailing 79-78. Andrei Kirilenko stole a pass to give Utah the ball back, and the Jazz missed two shots before Millsap collected his first offensive rebound in the game-deciding sequence.
"Huge, bro," Raja Bell said of Millsap's two offensive rebounds. "We hadn't really found a way to stop them in the last three or four possessions. I was over on the bench saying I didn't have a good feeling. But when he was able to secure those two (rebounds), I mean, it really gave us a shot to put a little separation in it."
Millsap's left pinky had a little separation in it as well during the first quarter of Monday's game. He sat the final 5:40 of the first quarter after he dislocated it, and then returned to the game at the start of the second period.
Millsap made two of his first three shots before suffering the injury. He shot 3-for-10 post-injury.
"You got to do what you can do," Millsap said. "My game was kind of limited, especially when the finger came out. I tried to adjust my shot. Some shots didn't go in for me that normally go in, but down the stretch I knocked down some free throws and that was a confidence boost for me and helped our team win."
Millsap still had a solid game even while dealing with hurting hands. He had his 11th double-double of the season with 14 points and 12 rebounds.
"He's always come and tried to do the best he can whenever he's been banged up," Jazz coach Jerry Sloan said of Millsap. "That's what you get paid for. He plays hard."
He played hard against the Bobcats — and with pain.
"I had to block it out mentally," Millsap said. "I had to be in the game. I couldn't worry about my fingers hurting. You can't worry about getting hit, (you worry about) getting a stop, getting a rebound, closing the game out."
Millsap said he'll adjust his shot until his hands get better. He expects his right thumb to be on ongoing problem. He is listed as a game-time decision for Wednesday's game against the Rockets, but no one expects him to miss the contest.7 comments on this story
"The thing about me is I'm always going to find a way," Millsap said. I'm going to work on it. I'll try different strategies, different ways to shoot it. I'll be in there tonight trying to practice shooting."
Miles offered a suggestion on how to shoot.
"Just dunk it every time," he said.