Mills steps up as Spurs down Clippers
Los Angeles, CA (SportsNetwork.com) - Patty Mills saw extended minutes due to the absence of Tony Parker and scored 16 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to help the San Antonio Spurs pull away from the Los Angeles Clippers, 113-103, on Thursday at Staples Center.
Parker is dealing with several ailments and will be sidelined "for the foreseeable future," as per head coach Gregg Popovich's assessment hours before the club's first game following the All-Star break.
Mills filled in for the All-Star admirably and also got help from last weekend's three-point champion, Marco Belinelli (20 points) and Tim Duncan, who flirted with a triple-double with 19 points, 13 boards and seven assists.
"What Patty gave us tonight is what he's been doing all year. As a team I was really proud of our effort," said Spurs coach Gregg Popovich.
Blake Griffin poured in 35 points and grabbed 12 rebounds to lead the Clippers, who had won three in a row coming in. Jamal Crawford chipped in with 25 points and Chris Paul netted 11 with nine assists but shot just 1-of-10 from the field.
"We were slow and didn't play very well. They were more ready to play than we were. We played a flat basketball game," said Clippers coach Doc Rivers.
Mills single-handedly turned a six-point Spurs lead entering the fourth to a 12-point cushion, 93-81, with a personal 11-5 stretch over the first three- plus minutes of frame.
Five straight points from Griffin and a 3-pointer from Crawford cut LA's deficit to 97-91 with 5:17 remaining, but Belinelli's mid-range jumper followed by a Mills triple and Boris Diaw floater rebuilt San Antonio's double digit lead that was never seriously threatened over the final four minutes.
The largest lead for either team over the first three quarters of this tight contest was eight, held by the Clippers midway through the first quarter.
The Spurs quickly erased that and ended the opening half on a 12-1 run to bring a 56-51 lead into the intermission.
An equally even third stanza ended with the Spurs holding an 82-76 advantage.
The Spurs improved to 5-2 on their nine-game road trip ... Los Angeles came in 14-2 at home against Western Conference opponents ... Danny Green scored 14 points for the Spurs, who made half of their shots (44-of-88) and held the Clippers to 43.2 percent (35-of-81) shooting.