SAN ANTONIO — C.J. Miles is usually as happy-go-lucky of a guy as you'll find anywhere, let alone in the NBA.
But not right now.
His smile is not as big.
Laughter from his direction is not as prevalent as it often seems to be.
The weight of his team's struggles and dissatisfaction with his own game has become a burden on the normally positive 24-year-old.
"It hurts me more than it hurts anybody else, I guarantee," Miles said of his recent woes. "I can't tell the last time I slept a whole night."
When Miles should be counting sheep, the small forward has been counting missed shots and assignments. He's tossing and turning while contemplating what could've and should've happened. He's talking to his mom or friends or watching game video to see how he can snap out of a slump and maintain or regain his mojo.
He's thinking Xs and Os, not Zzzzzs.
And he's left wondering how he can make solid showings happen over and over and over again instead of just once here or there.
Miles has particularly been bothered by his performances in the last three games.
And with only three games left in this disaster of a 2010-11 Jazz season, he admits to feeling worn down by it all.
"I'm just trying to play, play well," he said. "I (try to) do the right things on the floor. It's just frustrating stuff has just gone wrong individually and as a team, and it's kind of built up.
"I'm trying to stay sane."
Avoiding insanity with instability the Jazz have experienced hasn't been easy to accomplish.
That's why he's turned to outside sources — mom and friends — to keep grounded in this grind of a season that's seen him lose one of his best buddies on the team in Deron Williams (traded) and a coach whom he highly respected in Jerry Sloan (resigned).
"I'm just trying to get back to being basketball and not worrying about so much that's going on," he said. "There's so much you can't control. You can't control the rough patches that we've had."
At times this season, Miles has asked himself, "'Man, what we do we do?' We're playing so hard and you just feel like you can't catch a break. It's mentally just frustrating."
Instead, Miles is trying to focus on some rough patches that he's had throughout his six-year career in dealing with equally frustrating personal consistency issues.
He knows it. His coach knows it. Fans know it.
For as many 20-point nights as he's had — and don't forget his 40-point career night a few weeks ago — Miles has had as many clunkers and head-scratching moments. The last three games have been particularly rough. After a 15-game double-digit-scoring streak, he has averaged 5.3 points and not topped six. He also has only grabbed three total rebounds in that stretch while shooting 25 percent.
Jazz coach Tyrone Corbin sounds an awful lot like his coaching predecessor when speaking about the southpaw with a smooth shooting stroke.
"The consistency is the thing with him," Corbin said. "You try to get him to understand that it's not just on the offensive end. If you're not shooting the ball well, you can do other things to make yourself a positive asset for your team."
To Miles' defense — on defense even — he has made strides in his overall game. Nobody doubts that. It's his goal to finish the final three games of the season on a good note in all aspects.
"I just want to play well," he said. "I might not be scoring. It might be something else. But I'm just going to play well, I'm just going to play hard, try to do the right things, make basketball plays."
He hopes it's enough to convince the Jazz to sign him to an extension or to at least pick up the impending team option on the final year of his contract.
"I would definitely like to be back here," Miles said. "Hopefully, they pick up the option or maybe if it's an extension ... but I definitely want to be back here."
But that is not his concern yet, and he'll leave all of the nitty-gritty details to his agent and the Jazz to hammer out before the free-agency deadline.
What he can control in the present is putting a positive spin on the end of a bizarre and brutal season.
"I've shown what I can do, what I'm able to do," Miles said. "I think consistency is still definitely a thing I'm working on. I think that's another part of just the mental aspect, just coming in every night, just being able to play no matter how the game's going. Find ways of keeping yourself going and not feeling like that's not working and that's not tonight and you can't be there."75 comments on this story
Whether or not Miles' shot is falling, Corbin wants to see the young NBA veteran defend well, help open up shots for teammates while handling the ball, not settle for jumpers, cut harder, rebound, concentrate on both ends, run the floor and all of the other essential itty-bitty things.
"Consistency is the thing that he has to do better," Corbin added. "I think everybody is showing frustration when you lose. You're not having the success you want to have as a team. He's not having the success he wants as an individual, so that can be frustrating. But you've got to fight your way through it."
Grinning while bearing it and catching a few more winks wouldn't hurt, either.