With an ailing Tony Parker leaving the game early, backup guard Patty Mills was more than enough ready to help lead the San Antonio Spurs to victory on Saturday night. Mills finished with a season-high 32 points on 76 percent shooting and 80 percent from beyond the arc as the Spurs were able to edge the Charlotte Bobcats 104-100. The Spurs own a five-game winning streak over the Bobcats, including two straight on the road and a 7-1 ledger when playing in Charlotte.
Prior to Saturday, Al Jefferson scored in double figures and averaged 28.8 points and 12.0 rebounds as the Bobcats went 3-1 in a four-game road trip. That marked just the third time in franchise history that the Bobcats won three games during a four-game road trip. Jefferson picked up right where he left off as he finished with 26 points to go with nine rebounds, but it wasn’t enough.
Charlotte managed to keep the game fairly close in the second half before a hot Mills took control in the fourth. Mills scored 18 points on 5-for-5 shooting in the fourth as the Spurs outscored the Bobcats 35-30 in the final stanza. Statistically the Bobcats held the advantage in paint scoring, rebounding and forced 14 turnovers that were converted into 18 points, but the story of the game was bench scoring. Led by Mills, the Spurs dominated the Bobcats 55-22 in bench scoring. The one thing that bothered me the most was that two-of-the-three players who didn’t play due to coach’s decision were shooting guards and one is the second-highest paid player on the roster. This could be a repetitive problem for Charlotte if they look to make a serious playoff run simply because they lack consistent support at a shooting guard position.
I guess this could explain why the Bobcats were outshot from the field (46.8 percent to 43.8 percent), three-point range (38.1 percent to 37.5 percent) and free-throw line (85.7 percent to 72.7 percent) in this one.
The positive side to this loss is that Charlotte continues to prove they can go toe-to-toe with the best and obliterate any heights from last season. The team’s 22 victories have already surpassed last season’s total of 21 wins, joining the Portland Trail Blazers (35) and Phoenix Suns (29) as the only three teams in the NBA that have already eclipsed their win total from last season. Bobcats head coach Steve Clifford has won 22 of his first 50 games, which trails only Paul Silas (23) for the most victories by a Bobcats head coach over his first 50 games.
Still managing to hang onto the eight spot, the Bobcats are in a good position to make a playoff run but will need an extra kick if they plan to make some noise this year. Yes, Jefferson, Kemba Walker and Gerald Henderson are playing at the top of their careers, but who is willing to step up next?