Spurs stop four-game skid with victory over Clippers

LOS ANGELES (AP) — Patty Mills hit a career-high eight three-pointers and scored 27 points off the bench, and the San Antonio Spurs defeated the Los Angeles Clippers 116-113 yesterday to snap a four-game skid.

Dejounte Murray added 21 points, Rudy Gay had 16 points, LaMarcus Aldridge 14 points and Keldon Johnson grabbed a career-high 11 rebounds for the Spurs. They led by 24 in the first quarter and withstood an onslaught by Kawhi Leonard in the third before nearly blowing their lead in the fourth.

The Spurs tied a franchise record with 20 three-pointers.

“It was a mentality we came out with on the defensive end. It has nothing to do with shooting the ball,” Mills said. “Playing team defence like that fuels the fire and confidence for everyone to be able to play with the same sort of energy.”

Leonard scored a game-high 30 points and had 10 assists. He had 11 points in the third, when Patrick Beverley made three three-pointers, and the Clippers closed within one. Nicolas Batum had 21 points and nine rebounds, and Beverley finished with 20 points.

San Antonio Spurs guard Patty Mills shoots next to Los Angeles Clippers forwards Nicolas Batum and Kawhi Leonard. PHOTO: AP

“He was pushing the pace in transition, getting to the paint and throwing it out to shooters,” Leonard said of Beverley. “He was very active on defence.”

The Clippers were without Paul George, who tweaked his ankle in Sunday’s win over Phoenix. They sorely missed his averages of 25.1 points, 5.7 rebounds and 5.1 assists per game.

The Spurs opened the fourth with a 12-2 run that restored their lead to double digits. Mills hit three three-pointers in a row to extend San Antonio’s lead to 111-96.

But the Clippers kept clawing. They closed the game on a 17-5 run despite Leonard scoring just two points in the fourth quarter, when his shot from the right side with five seconds left missed under defensive pressure from DeMar DeRozan.

“That’s what we wanted,” Spurs rookie guard Devin Vassell said. “We knew they couldn’t get an open three off.”

The Clippers scored 40 points in the third to pull to 85-84. Leonard had 11 points and Beverley hit three three-pointers to help them rally from 19 down at halftime.

The Spurs opened the second quarter with an 18-3 run that pushed their lead to 54-30. Five players scored, led by Murray with five points. Leonard scored the Clippers’ final 11 points.