It’s His Minutes, Not His Model

Yup, they're dating. Relationship confirmed.

Marko Jaric and Brazilian supermodel Adriana Lima are collectively as blissful as "Real World" Parisa was to send Trisha packing this week.

"Yes, I'm happy about it, but I'm trying to focus on basketball right now and I don't want anything else to distract me or this team," said Jaric.

Fair enough.

Accordingly, after Thursday afternoon's Wolves practice, Jaric explained that he doesn't mind talking about his relationship with the Victoria's Secret Angel, but at the same time, would like to keep the chatter off the court.

"The problem is, I’m trying really hard right now to focus on the game," he said. "We are starting to get into a flow right now, and I don't want any external distractions to hit this team right now. I’m trying to focus as much as possible on basketball."

His court focus has without question been in play, particularly of late. Still, various blogs, columns and Mad Dog have facetiously (at least in part) credited Jaric's current on-court surge to his new lady. But in fact, his numbers most simply reflect increased playing time and the resulting gain in confidence.

Take a look:

Games Minutes Pts Ast Reb FG% Stl Blk
Last Four 38 16.80 6.25 3.75 57.40 1.75 1.25
Previous Four 24 8.25 2.75 3.50 42.30 1.25 0.25

Not bad, right?

It's never quite as simple as opportunity = production, because Jaric wouldn't have gotten the increased minutes in the first place had he not showed the coaching staff he was helping the team even when not playing as much. But he's been warranting the 38 minutes a game he's gotten in the last four.

"It's been a long time since I've gotten the right opportunity, but it's important that when things don’t go your way, you have to stay strong, work hard and wait for the right chance," explained Jaric. "Coach Wittman has given me a big opportunity and I’m just trying to get the most out of it."

Rewind back to last season, and a very different situation for Jaric. Mike James and Randy Foye were handling duties at PG, while Jaric was rotating between off guard and small forward, only occasionally getting the ball on the point.

Hey Adriana ... You certainly aren't hurting, but it's your man's minutes that are really doing the trick.

To be fair, Jaric is still playing two positions at times this year, as coach Wittman has been moving Jaric over to shooting guard when he wants a quicker lineup, with Sebastian Telfair manning the point. In fact, Marko said he actually likes that method, though it's always been clear that he prefers to start (and finish) as the point guard.

"I definitely feel confident to play two positions as long as I start as a point guard and have the ball in my hands," explained Jaric. "Right now, how our offense is set is to move the basketball, pass it around and (create open shots). As long as we do that I feel very comfortable."

While things may change once Foye returns from his knee injury, for now the starting point guard wears number 55.

"I’m trying to transfer what coach it trying to do with our team onto the court," said Jaric. "If you need my assists, I'll pass. If you need my scoring, I'll score. I’m trying to adjust to the situation and the game."

His scoring has been a pleasant surprise, particularly as he's shooting 48.5 percent through 13 games ... After all, he's a career 40.6 percent shooter. When asked if the improvement in his shooting this season is at all related to the fact that he's no longer dealing with a hurting thumb, as he did in 2006-07, Jaric said, "Not really." It's more that he's comfortable with the flow of the offense, and his shots are coming more naturally, in positions where he can succeed.

"We played a different game last year, and I was forcing a little bit maybe trying to prove that I can shoot," Jaric concluded. "But now, these are different types of shots that I'm taking."

So, in short, dating Adriana Lima certainly isn't hurting Marko's basketball production. It's cool. But all one has to do is crunch a few numbers to see that Jaric's increased minutes and role are truly what's behind his improved play.

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