Timberwolves guard Andre Miller, in his 17th season, is 39. He doesn't play a lot; he is here more to be a mentor to young players. He can go games without playing. And then he will find himself on the court — usually with his team in a difficult situation — playing 20 or even 30 minutes.
And that can be tough on an older fella.
"I try to keep my same routine, my same preparation," Miller said after shootaround before Friday night's game with Sacramento. "I mean, this year I tend to get thrown in when we're down 15, 20 points. You just try to be prepared, try to set an example for the younger guys, show them that any time your name is called you have to be ready."
Miller has the ability to take a game going at a frenetic pace and slow it down to his preferred tempo. And while his numbers — 4.5 points, 1.3 rebounds and 3.2 assists per game — aren't that big, usually he has been effective when asked to play.
He has developed good on-court chemistry with Zach LaVine. And Miller (plus-11) and Ricky Rubio (plus-31) were the only players with positive plus/minus marks on the Wolves through 25 games. Miller is averaging a very good 8.0 assists per 36 minutes played.
He is proficient running the pick-and-roll and getting teammates the ball in good spots.
"He's one of the most underrated passers ever to play the game," said Kings coach George Karl, who coached Miller with Denver and Sacramento. "His knack for making a team work is in the top tier. He takes average and makes it good, takes good and makes it very good and takes really good and makes it great."
Back it up
Karl-Anthony Towns hit two of four three-point shots in the Wolves' loss at New York on Wednesday. In his previous 10 games entering Friday, he had hit seven of 15 three-pointers.
Towns said he started stepping back and taking threes when he felt his mid-range shot wasn't going. "Having it not go in for me, I decided I must have been in too close," he said. "So I just started to step back."
Kevin Garnett cautioned that the No. 1 overall pick shouldn't fall in love with the three-pointer. "If you have it, you're open, take it, obviously," Garnett said. "But let your bread and butter be what's in the middle. Let that be what people know you for.
"It's a great weapon for him. He works on it every day. I don't condemn anything. [But] I always encourage him to lean towards his strengths."
Friday's game was Towns' first NBA action against Kings big man DeMarcus Cousins. Both went to Kentucky, and the two played in pickup games over the summer while both were in Lexington.
"He's very talented and, obviously, a big human being," Towns said of the 6-11, 270-pound Cousins. "So you have to play physical with him and try to use speed against them. You're talking about one of the best in the league."