MILWAUKEE - He's not the fastest point guard. He's not the most creative or the flashiest. He doesn't have youth on his side.
But Andre Miller has his game.
It is a signature style, built on craftiness, knowledge, remarkable court vision, a variety of stop-and-go moves and up fakes, an almost eerie ability to change gears at just the precise moment.
"He is perfect for what they do, for the way they play," a veteran scout marveled at courtside in the Bradley Center.
He was last night.
He all but willed the 76ers to victory last night, putting a personal stamp on a 110-105 decision with a textbook, old-fashioned, push-shot three-pointer with 28.8 seconds left.
Now you know why he spends countless hours after practice with a pitch-back device. It's not unusual for him to still be on the court long after his teammates have gone their separate ways.
That shot, which barely skimmed the net, turned a slim 104-103 lead into a 107-103 advantage and became the decisive dagger as the Sixers climbed to 6-6 under coach Tony DiLeo.
Miller finished with 28 points, tying his season high, as well as nine rebounds and six assists. He was complemented by Andre Iguodala's 20 points, seven assists and five rebounds, not to mention a variety of contributions from the bench.
That included 12 points from Lou Williams and nine from Royal Ivey in the backup guard's best performance of the season. They also got a huge dunk from rookie Marreese Speights with a minute remaining, after Iguodala had a shot blocked by Charlie Villanueva.
They even knocked down eight treys, their highest total since reaching nine in a Dec. 19 victory over Washington. DiLeo had challenged them to make at least five each game, but they had been just 19-for-84 in the previous eight games.
DiLeo called it "a great team victory and a great character victory," and he was right. But it was as much a result of Miller's work as anything else.
"He's unbelievable," DiLeo said. "Just unbelievable. He sees things on the court no else sees. He knows when to push the ball, when to pull it out. He always wants to be responsible down the stretch."
Case in point: his triple with 28.8 seconds on the clock.
It seemed as if he planned to take the shot all along, but he admitted afterward that that was not the case.
"I was going to take it coming down the court, and then I decided to go to [Iguodala], but he kind of deferred to me," Miller said. "I didn't know what to do, whether to attack the basket or pull up [and shoot]."
He's hardly a three-point specialist, but he has been working on that aspect of his game after practice.
"You see me in the gym," he said, smiling. "I don't take a lot of them, but I try and take meaningful ones."
Ivey, who was with the Bucks last season and joined the Sixers as a free agent, played the entire fourth quarter, and came up big with six of his points in that stretch, then contributed an excellent defensive play with about 8 seconds left.
It was 108-105, and the Bucks' Charlie Bell wanted one more triple. But Ivey refused to go for a fake and Bell ended up almost clumsily forcing the shot, which was retrieved by Iguodala.
That left the Bucks' Luke Ridnour taking a foul, and Iguodala dropping in two free throws to ice the victory.
"[Bell] got the ball and I wasn't sure what he was trying to do, but I wasn't going to bite on his pump fake," Ivey said. "He went straight up but I held my ground and the ref saw there was no contact."
Ivey was added to the roster primarily for his defense and energy, and he provided both in this one.
"I brought some energy that carried over to everyone else and that's what I'm known for," he said.
The game had been there for the Sixers all evening, but it seemed as if they were never going to take it. If they hadn't been able to finally grasp it, it clearly would have hurt as much as the recent losses to Indiana, Denver and San Antonio.
They didn't climb ahead for good until 4:07 was left and Speights dropped in a layup from - who else? - Miller to make it 97-96.
"He's fantastic," DiLeo said. "And not just on offense. Down the stretch, he's one of our best defenders. He knows how to play; he's like another coach on the court because he's so clever and smart. He doesn't rely on his quickness and athleticism. He relies on leverage. He knows the game. He relies on his head, his intelligence, his basketball IQ."
The best part of the evening for DiLeo was to "finally get results" for the work they have put in.
"We played good on the road, but we couldn't get wins," he said. "This was good for morale, to have all the hard work result in a win." *