Aldridge to Return vs Grizzlies; Popovich Discusses Mills’ Starting Role

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DENVER, CO - FEBRUARY 23: LaMarcus Aldridge #12 of the San Antonio Spurs handles the ball during the game against the Denver Nuggets on February 23, 2018 at the Pepsi Center in Denver, Colorado. (Photo by Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images)

AT&T CENTER – The San Antonio Spurs have dropped two games in a row at home where they led by 15 and 17 points against the New Orleans Pelicans and Los Angeles Lakers. LaMarcus Aldridge left early in the Pelicans’ loss with a sprained right ankle and then he missed the following game against the Lakers.

Aldridge will return to the lineup Monday when the Spurs host the Memphis Grizzlies, according to Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich.

“Sore, but he’s going to play,” said Popovich of Aldridge.

After the Spurs’ loss to the Lakers, Pau Gasol called Monday’s game against the lottery-bound Grizzlies, “a must win.”

With a mixture of injuries and still no timeline for the return of Kawhi Leonard, the Spurs have begun to spiral in since January 30, where they’re 2-8 in their last 10 games. One adjustment Popovich has made over the last four games is starting Patty Mills at the shooting guard position in place of Danny Green.

“I think he’s done a great job,” said Popovich of Mills. “He’s given us what we wanted to start games, that kind of thing. Our problem has been our defensive breakdowns in the fourth quarters.”

Since starting Mills in place of Green, the Spurs are scoring 110.9 points per 100 possessions (11th) and allowing 109.7 PP/100 (25th). The Spurs have gone 1-3 since the lineup change.

As Popovich mentioned, it’s mainly been the Spurs’ fourth quarters on defense that have been their biggest concern. Since February 1, the Spurs are scoring 105.3 PP/100 (21st) and in fourth quarters they are tied for dead last on defense with the Phoenix Suns, allowing 119 PP/100 (30th).

Lastly, Popovich was asked about how close Leonard is to returning to the lineup, and he provided a response with a tad bit of sarcasm.

“Really getting close,” said Popovich of Leonard.

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