The San Antonio Spurs‘ struggles due to injuries have been a consistent topic in the media, but Patty Mills gave the basketball world something else to talk about on Saturday night. The Spurs’ sixth man issued a statement as he lifted them to a 104-100 victory over the Charlotte Bobcats by an offensive outburst of epic proportion.
Some adjectives that would sum up the night Mills had may fall under the following: unconscious, automatic and even “clutch.” Only two points shy of his career best, Mills was able to pull out a 32 point performance in only 25 minutes of playing time. He is a career 6.6 points per game player that decided it was time for a coming out party. He dropped in four buckets from beyond the arc to finish the first half with 12 points. But it was his effort in the fourth quarter that put him in the conversation for sixth man of the year.
Tony Parker was visibly struggling with his lower back tightness and only finished with nine points. Tim Duncan was not able to carry the team offensively, as he was worn down trying to guard Bobcats’ Al Jefferson. With the Spurs’ big two neutralized, the skills of Mills were on full display. Not only did he finish the second half with a perfect 5-of-5 from the field, but he also sparked the 12-4 run that propelled the Spurs to victory in the fourth quarter.
The 18 fourth quarter points by Mills happens to be the most fourth quarter points scored by any of Gregg Popovich‘s boys this season. The rest of his stat line looked something like seven rebounds, four assists and two steals. If he can keep up numbers like those, the award that teammate Manu Ginobili won may not be that far from Mill’s grasp.
Mills will definitely be an x-factor for San Antonio this season since they can use him in a variety of ways. His ability to shoot off the dribble is great for a transition jumper, as well as the pick and roll action in their offense. Mills only committed two turnovers last night, which helps his case for one of the most efficient ball-handlers in the league.
Lately, the Spurs’ offense has been stagnant, but Mills brings in good ball movement and energy that spreads throughout his teammates. Whether or not Mills can bring home the first sixth man of the year award since 2007-08 is yet to be seen, but the fact remains that Mills is a dangerous asset for the Spurs to use this season.