Jason Maxiell has a well-earned reputation as an undersized banger. For a majority of his career, he has contributed offensively with put-backs, alley-oop dunks and lay-ups.
With expanded playing time this season, the veteran power forward has become increasingly reliant on his mid-range jump shooting. When he equaled his season high with 19 points against Atlanta Friday, he scored five baskets from at least 15 feet away. He drained three more midrange shots during the third quarter of Saturday's rout over Toronto.
During the first of five road games Monday night against Utah -- a 105-90 loss -- all three of Maxiell's baskets came from at least 17 feet. He attempted another that didn't fall with the team trailing by just three in the late going.
Having the green light to take that shot shows how much faith coach Lawrence Frank has gained in Maxiell's offensive game.
"He works on it every single day," Frank said. "Max has been extremely consistent throughout. He has confidence in the shot. He doesn't second-guess; he just goes and shoots it. We want him to shoot open shots. He brings great energy and he brings toughness to the team. When you have confidence and you've worked at it, that's the key. If he didn't put the time in, no one would have the confidence in it. He puts the time in, so we expect it to go in."
Maxiell put the extended waiting period created by the lockout to good use.
"It's something I worked on a lot during the summer when we were locked out," he said. "Then with Coach Roy (Rogers), we also work on it, so it's something I've got to be consistent with."
Most of his career, Maxiell came off the bench and wasn't looked upon for anything more than hustle plays. That has changed since he replaced Ben Wallace in the lineup 19 games ago. Over the last five games, Maxiell is averaging 11.8 points.
"The previous couple of years, he had some DNP's (did not play)," forward Tayshaun Prince said. "He might play 10 minutes, he might play 15, then the next game he might not play at all. When you know each and every time you're going to get minutes, you prepared yourself and he's been able to do that. The good thing is he's seizing his opportunity."
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