C.J. Miles didn’t hide from the reality of a forgettable Tuesday night.
It wasn’t that he didn’t put up expected numbers in a loss. Miles was beating himself up for letting his team down in its third consecutive loss.
A disappointing player wouldn’t be faulted for avoiding interviews. But Miles is one of the more accountable and therefore admired guys in the Pacers’ locker room. He wasn’t dodging any questions after his awful evening at the office.
Asked if he just needed that first shot to fall at some point, he couldn’t help but laugh at himself and admit, “It could be the second or third one, I just need one of ‘em to go down. It doesn’t matter which one it is at this point, just one of ‘em go in there, just to see it go in there.”
The 10th-year pro was signed as a free agent for his scoring punch. But so far, he’s shot 28 percent (14-of-50) in four games, including 20 percent from 3-point range with 20 misses in 25 attempts.
It’s been humbling to say the least. But say this for him, he still knows what’s important.
“All I can speak from, from what I want to do in my mind-set, I just want to help my basketball team,” Miles said. “It’s not about accolades for me. It’s not about what people think about what I did. It’s just about me trying to figure out how to help my team win a game. That’s the way I look at it. Was I able to do something to help us win the game? We lost the game, no matter what I did in the game, there’s something I could have done to help us win the game.”
Granted, the Pacers aren’t the team he signed up for with All-Star Paul George breaking his leg and now forward David West, point guard George Hill and backup point guard C.J. Watson sidelined by injuries and yet to play in the regular season. West is still at least one week away with a sprained ankle and the other two are still weeks from returning.
Role players have logged heavy minutes. And Miles, an 8.9-point career scorer used as a reserve in most of his previous stops, realizes he has yet to deliver.
Nobody is harder on him than himself. He does care. He takes this unexpected slump more seriously than anyone.
It was painful to watch. He had open looks, just as in the other games, but he continually missed. Miles can’t remember ever having more open shots, and then missing.
His frustration reaches a point where he can’t help but be indecisive when he gets that next open look. Should he keep shooting? He’s asked himself that, an indication by his own admission that his confidence has been shaken.
Head coach Frank Vogel assured Miles would sort it out. But that won’t come in practice. The Pacers have a busy schedule. They travel to Washington Wednesday, are at Boston Friday, return home to face Washington Saturday and then host Utah on Monday before a road trip to Miami on Nov. 12 and back-to-back games next weekend at home against Denver on Nov. 14 and at Chicago on Nov. 15.
“He’ll be alright,” Vogel said. “He’s being hard on himself, but we have confidence in him.”
Miles assures he still has a shooter’s mentality, but admitted he hasn’t looked the part. Hill observed during the game that Miles didn’t look like the same confidence shooter the Pacers have seen in practice. The point guard tried to calm him and remind Miles to relax.
“That’s all I can do,” Miles said, when asked about continuing to shoot. “That’s what I’ve done in the past and that’s what I’ve done that’s kept me here. In the NBA, it’s about being able to figure it out and I’ve always figured it out.
“It’s four games, and it feels like 50 to me. It’s going to come.”
Phillip B. Wilson can be found on Twitter (@pwilson24), Facebook and Google+.