With a 16-point fourth quarter, San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills helped create separation between the Spurs and the Los Angeles Clippers in the final 12-minutes Tuesday, to help the Spurs defeat the Clippers 113-103 minus Tony Parker (rest), Kawhi Leonard (injury), and Tiago Splitter (injury).
Mills led the Spurs with 25 points off the bench, while Marco Belinelli scored 20 points in his return from winning the Foot Locker 3-point contest over the weekend. Tim Duncan, who was reportedly thinking about retirement, showed why he’s still a force with 19 points, 13 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1 block. Danny Green (14 points) and Boris Diaw (12 points) also helped the Spurs hold off Blake Griffin (35 points, 12 rebounds), Jamal Crawford (25 points), and the Clippers.
For a full recap of the game, check out Spurs.com. Here are some analysis points inside the victory.
Mills’ fourth quarter explosion
Mills began the fourth quarter scoring the first 11 points for the Spurs, as he helped the Spurs push their lead into double-figures three minutes into the quarter. Whether it was driving in or shooting from the outside, the Clippers couldn’t match the scoring output by Mills to start the fourth. Mills scored 16 points in the fourth on 6-of-8 shooting. Mills’ playmaking ability was also apparent as he threw five assists, threw one “hockey” assist, and one assist that led to a free throw opportunity for a teammate. Mills shot 67% on contested shots in the game. He was responsible for more than half of the Spurs’ 31 fourth quarter points and scored just 11 less points than the Clippers in the fourth (27).
Mills has had several “explosive” fourth quarters during the Rodeo Road Trip and as you can see by his shot chart below, Mills heat’s up in the most important quarter while on this road trip. Mills is averaging 7.7 points in 7.0 minutes, while shooting 66% from the field, and 46% from 3-point range in the fourth quarters of the Rodeo Road Trip.
With Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich saying Tony Parker will be out for the “foreseeable future” on Tuesday afternoon, Mills will need to continue to stay as productive as he’s been during the road trip. He’s averaging 17.6 points on 54% shooting in 21.4 minutes per game, in his last seven games.
Duncan responds to retirement rumor
In less than 24 hours of the George Karl “hearing” Duncan is pondering retirement rumor coming out, Duncan was asked about the news post-game, and here’s what he had to say.
Duncan asked on Karl's report of retirement. "I'd like to know who he talked to. It's not something I'm thinking about."
— Ben Hunt (@benhunted) February 19, 2014
Ginobili returns from injury
After missing eight straight games to a tight right hamstring, Manu Ginobili returned to the lineup and looked quite fresh as he scored 9 points, threw 3 assists, 3 “hockey” assists, 1 assist that led to a free throw opportunity for a teammate, and was able to get to the rim shooting 5-of-6 from the free throw line in 15 minutes. Ginobili also ran 1.1 miles in the game, as Coach Popovich will continue to ease his minutes into regular form.
Green and Belinelli bring outside scoring
In the win, the Spurs shot 9-of-20 from 3-point range. Green and Belinelli accounted for more than half of the team’s made 3-pointers, as they each made three a piece to give San Antonio the edge in scoring from the outside. When Green was open, he shot 3-of-4 (75%) in the game, and on the opposite end, Belinelli made 4-of-7 (57%) contested shots, but just 4-of-10 (40%) uncontested shots.
Offense flows through Duncan and Diaw minus Parker
With Parker out of the game, the Spurs ran a majority of their offense through Duncan and Diaw. Duncan touched the ball the most at 86 times and threw 57 passes. Diaw touched the ball the second most with 73 touches and threw a team high 65 passes. With Ginobili still easing into form and with Mills coming off the bench, Duncan, Diaw, and Cory Joseph (50 passes) were able to help set-up players like Belinelli and Green for their 3-pointers, and scores off back-door cuts, and give-and-go play action.
Joseph’s defense + Paul not 100% lead to rough game for CP3
With Tuesday being Chris Paul’s third game back from injury, the combination of him not being 100% and having Joseph defend him led to a rough game for Paul. Paul shot 1-of-10 in 38 minutes for 11 points, 9 assists, and 2 turnovers. Paul did throw two hockey assists, and two passes that led to free throw attempts. Paul shot 1-of-4 when defended, and 0-of-6 when uncontested. Joseph’s defense throughout the night can also be credited to Paul’s poor shooting night.
Leonard, Splitter close to return
Before the game, both Leonard and Splitter were listed as doubtful to play. The Spurs made the announcement before the game began that neither would play, but it was an encouraging sign that each will be ready to play soon. That opportunity could come Wednesday in Portland against the Blazers, or possibly Friday in Phoenix against the Suns.
Where San Antonio Stands
· Regular Season: 39-15 (2nd in the Western Conference)
· Road Record: 21-7 (1st in the NBA)
· Vs. Opponents with +.500 records: 13-12
· Vs. the Western Conference: 23-9
· Without Kawhi Leonard: 7-5
· Rodeo Road Trip: 5-2
(All Stats and Player Tracking data via NBA.com)