The San Antonio Spurs came in to the Staples Center with quite a few problems to worry about, but came away with a 113-103 win over the Los Angeles Clippers thanks to non other than Patty Mills, doing a great job off the bench and completely taking over in the fourth quarter.
Tony Parker is out for the forseeable future with a bruised shin, groin strain and lower back spasms, so Cory Joseph started, scoring 7 points, while Patty Mills came off the bench, finishing with 25 points in 27 minutes, adding 5 rebounds and 5 assists. He scored 16 of them in the final quarter, as the Spurs pulled away in what was mostly a tight game between the teams.
Blake Griffin continues to be monstrous with 35 points and 12 rebounds, but Chris Paul didn’t do well with seeing unfamiliar faces in front of him, finishing with only 1-of-10 from the field en route to 11 points. The Spurs usually do a good job defending him, this time having a more defensive minded approach from their guards compared to when Parker is the one defending him.
Down a couple of guys, not being able to practice yesterday, and to be able to come in here and put together a 48-minute performance like this was great for us. It was a big win for us, especially on the road against a very good ballclub. He was great for us. That fourth quarter, he really took over for that 5 minutes and gave us the lead that we needed. We were struggling trying to find points and keep the pressure on them, and he just completely took the ballgame over.
Mills took over when Tim Duncan picked up his fourth foul with just over a minute remaining in the third quarter. Mills scored 11 consecutive points from that moment to give the Spurs a 93-81 lead with just under nine minutes left in the fourth quarter, and the Spurs didn’t lose the lead, doing an excellent job against Paul and his pick & roll attempts.
Usually, Paul is the best in the league when it comes to pick-and-rolls, a league leader in points and assists per game as a pick-and-roll ball handler. However, he was only 0-of-4 with 1 assist running that kind of play against the Spurs.
The Spurs now improve to 5-1 this season without Tony Parker which means that despite all of the injuries, which also include Tiago Splitter and Kawhi Leonard, this team still has plenty of depth to cover for them. The Spurs were in this situation last season as well and went 11-5 without Parker. They’re actually scoring more points per game (104 to 103.8) and have a better margin (6.1 to 8.8) when Parker isn’t playing.
We’re just trying to get him healthy. I mean, players being healthy is so underrated. When people play through things and they aren’t 100 percent, the season becomes a grind. So we want to be 100 percent so that down the stretch and in the playoffs, when we ask him to do all that we need him to do, he’s ready to go and carry that load on his shoulders.