On the second night of a back-to-back, the hobbled San Antonio Spurs were set to face the youthful Portland Trail Blazers without Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Kawhi Leonard. Yet somehow the Spurs pulled out the 111-109 victory thanks to the heroics of reserve Patty Mills.
Mills followed up his 25-point performance from the previous night with a 29-point offensive display. In 29 minutes, Mills was able knock down 13 of his 26 field goal attempts and added three rebounds to complement two assists. Right behind Mills was his backcourt mate, Marco Belinelli, who was able to put in 20 of his own points.
With the Trail Blazers shorthanded due to a LaMarcus Aldridge groin strain, the Spurs were able to score 42 points in the paint and grab 40 rebounds as a team. Another factor that attributed to the Spurs’ success despite being without two of the Big Three was one of them — Manu Ginobili. He finished with 16 points in 19 minutes thanks to Gregg Popovich, who started Ginobili in the second half.
But it was Mills’ offensive execution, once again, that carried San Antonio to their 22nd road victory of the year. Mills has averaged 21 points over the last seven games and logged his fourth 20-point game of the month. The 26 shot attempts against the Trail Blazers are the most Mills has taken in any one game to date, and the 13 made field goals are his highest totals of the season as well.
In the absence of Parker, Mills has taken advantage of the opportunity to excel in the moment. With more court time comes more responsibility, and it looks as if Mills is welcoming both. It is even more impressive that the reserve has the stamina to play the recent minutes he has been given which speaks volumes of his offseason conditioning. Mills has made himself an offensive threat that the rest of the NBA must take seriously.