SAN ANTONIO (AP) — The last active player from the San Antonio Spurs’ glory days, Patty Mills remembers when winning wasn’t such a struggle.
Mills told his teammates to stay positive, remain patient and keep fighting. Yeesterday, he showed them how to do it.
Mills had 27 points and the Spurs overcame a career-high 41 points from Spencer Dinwiddie to beat the Brooklyn Nets 118-105.
“We’ve just got to find ways to win,” Mills said. “A lot of it comes down to energy and effort. We’re working out the kinks of being able to execute a lot more than we have. We’re just grinding it, grinding it out and finding ways to win.”
Mills had 21 points in the second half, shooting five for eight on three-pointers as the Spurs rallied from a 14-point deficit to beat the Nets for the 17th straight home game.
As tough as the defeat was, Brooklyn suffered a greater loss when David Nwaba suffered a season-ending torn right Achilles tendon. Nwaba left a minute into the fourth quarter after dropping to the court following a scramble for the ball near the top of the key.
“It’s tough to focus on the game right now,” Nets coach Kenny Atkinson said. “He was playing as well as anybody on our team. Tough blow. That’s where our hearts and minds are right now.”
Already without Kevin Durant and Caris LeVert, Brooklyn played its 17th straight game without injured point guard Kyrie Irving. Dinwiddie tried to cover by shooting 14 of 29 from the field, eclipsing his career high by two points.
“LaMarcus Aldridge was playing the lob a lot,” Dinwiddie said. “You just try to be aggressive because he’s trying to take away (Jarrett Allen) and they’re trying to take away shooters. If they went under, I shot a three. If they went over, I attacked the basket.”
The strategy helped the Nets build a 14-point lead in the first half.
The Spurs closed the third quarter on a 12-0 run and notched their first lead at 83-81 on Mills’ layup with 3.8 seconds left. San Antonio was four for nine on three-pointers in the third, including Derrick White’s three to tie it at 81.
Mills finished seven for 10 on three-pointers.
“He’s everything,” Spurs point guard Dejounte Murray said. “I’ve never seen him with an attitude in the four years I’ve been here. Not an attitude, no head down. He’s a real pro.”