SALT LAKE CITY — C.J. Miles was under the weather earlier last week, so much so he even missed Monday's game against Miami with a viral infection.
The way he first played coming off the bench in the first quarter of Saturday's 112-95 win over Milwaukee, you had to wonder if Jazz coach Jerry Sloan might quickly send him back to the sick bay.
His first 20 seconds, which were about as painful as a sore throat, played out like this:
3:16: Sub in for Andrei Kirilenko.
3:09: Badly miss a 3-pointer, taken with about 20 seconds remaining on the shot clock.
3:03: Foul Hakim Warrick.
2:56: Pick up second foul.
Fortunately for Miles and the Jazz, the small forward was not subbed out at the 2:55 mark.
It was also fortunate that the somewhat enigmatic fifth-year player "settled down a little bit," as Deron Williams put it.
A couple of minutes later, Miles dropped in a gimme fast-break layup to give the Jazz a 31-15 lead and that seemed to flip his switch. He finished with a team-high 19 points on 8-for-11 shooting.
"I ran the floor," Miles said of what he tried to do to bounce back from the rough start, "got a couple of deflections, got myself in the game and then everything was smooth after that."
Silky smooth at times even.
Early in the second quarter, Miles charged toward the basket again and was fouled. What made the play especially sweet was how the southpaw switched hands mid-air while being fouled, and converted the shot with his right hand.
All the weeks of wearing a cast on his left hand — after having surgery on his thumb in the preseason — and shooting as a righty certainly came in handy.
Miles followed that with a 3-pointer, and then had a seven-point spurt during the Jazz's all-but-game-clinching 10-2 run to end the third quarter.
"He gave us a huge boost," Williams said.
A key, the point guard added, was that Miles relaxed but aggressively attacked the basket after his bumpy beginning.
"You could just see he got his confidence that way," Williams said, "and shot lights out."
It was Miles' second big scoring night in the past week-and-a-half. He went off for 24 points in the Jazz's home win over Memphis on Jan. 6.
Since then, he's battled illness and inconsistency. He was 0-for-7 at Memphis a week ago Friday and shot 3-for-8 in games sandwiched around the one he missed Monday.
Miles, who averages about nine points, and his team are hoping he can find his consistency, and that he'll find other ways to contribute if his textbook-looking stroke is off.
"I think that's always been his key — having a good game and then not having a bad game after that," Williams said.
Sloan liked Miles' offensive outing Saturday — a much-needed spark off the bench — but he still wants more all-around effort from the athletic 22-year-old.
Miles played 23 minutes but didn't have any rebounds. He did get a couple of steals, though.
"He made his shots. He looked very comfortable shooting the ball," Sloan said. "But the thing that upset me a little bit was he looked too comfortable running back down the floor defensively."13 comments on this story
Having said that, Sloan did acknowledge Miles has been sick, adding that he's "sure his energy level's not too high."
Miles knows what his coach wants, and said he's been trying to do all the little things even if it didn't exactly look like it the first little while.
"I've been trying," Miles said, "to make a valiant effort to just defend and take that challenge."