CLEVELAND: There was a running joke in the Cavaliers’ locker room before and after their 92-83 victory Wednesday over the Philadelphia 76ers. The reason C.J. Miles finally snapped out of his season-long funk was because he got a haircut.
Not only was Miles struggling to find his jumper, he was struggling even worse to find a barber. The first one he called couldn’t take him because the barber needed throat surgery. The second barber never even bothered calling him back. Miles couldn’t hit a fadeaway, but even worse, he also couldn’t find anyone to give him a fade.
Miles finally found an available barber on Wednesday, then he responded with his best game of the season: 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting and three rebounds. He even made 3-of-4 3-pointers after beginning the night shooting 22 percent (6-of-27) on 3s.
“I’ll roll with it,” Miles said of his new ’do and his new-found game. “If that’s what it is, I’ll go bald-headed next time.”
Miles’ erratic play had Cavs fans ripping their hair out most of the season. His woeful shooting and erratic defense quickly eliminated him from coach Byron Scott’s rotation. But injuries to Kyrie Irving and Daniel Gibson forced Scott to turn back to Miles, and this time Miles didn’t disappoint.
Too often, Miles has come into games cold and started hoisting shots from the outside. Defenses were well aware of Miles’ early-season struggles and were happy to leave him alone with open looks.
That’s why Scott grabbed him Wednesday before inserting him for the first time and told him his first couple of attempts needed to be drives to the baskets or shots in rhythm. Scott told Miles during the Cavs’ recent road trip that he didn’t have to shoot a 3-pointer just because he was open at the 3-point line. Scott wanted him to take a dribble and get into a rhythm. Now, before putting him in the game, he was demanding it.
Miles listened and cooperated. His first shot was a short pull-up jumper, which he missed, but his second shot was a layup. Then he made a 3-pointer and was finally starting to feel a rhythm.
“A layup does wonders for you,” he said.
His biggest shot of the night was his last. With the Sixers trying to rally late, Miles nailed a 3-pointer with 2:43 left to put the Cavs ahead 86-77. The Sixers immediately called timeout and Miles couldn’t help but flash a beaming smile.
It’s unclear what his role will be going forward, beginning with tonight’s game at Orlando, once Gibson is healthy again. But for at least one night, Miles finally felt like he helped the Cavs instead of hurt them.
“I felt like I took the building off my shoulders, along with my hair,” Miles joked. “It was big for me to be able to help my team, that was the biggest thing. Everybody has been encouraging me. Everybody knows what I can do and they’ve been encouraging me to keep playing and keep trying to get better and get my rhythm back.”
Perhaps it shouldn’t have been such a surprise that Miles and Jeremy Pargo, with his career-high 28 points, were the two stars. They were the two players who have worked the hardest lately at practice, who return to the facility in the evenings with the coaches. Miles has been at one end of the floor, Pargo at the other.
“That’s what he understands as a veteran, when you’re going through something like this, all you can do right now is work your butt off at practice and try to come out of it,” Scott said. “And when he gets his opportunity again, be ready to take advantage of it.”
Jason Lloyd can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Read the Cavs blog at http://www.ohio.com/cavs. Follow him on Twitter http://www.twitter.com/JasonLloydABJ. Follow ABJ sports on Facebook at http://www.facebook.com/sports.abj.