With the Spurs’ post-season position already determined, head coach Gregg Popovich again rested star players Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili, which gave Mills the opportunity to back up from his impressive 27 point showing against Phoenix yesterday with some additional guaranteed minutes today, and he delivered the game of his career.
Mills had an explosive first half, heading into the change rooms with 18 points as the Spurs battled a persistent Warriors outfit. Golden State tightened the screws on Mills after half time, as the playmaker started to distribute the ball to his teammates in the third term, seeing his assist tally rise as the game progressed.
Sitting on 24 points early in the fourth quarter, and with the game tied, Mills connected on two quick three pointers to bring his tally up to 30 points, and with it, a six-point lead to the Spurs. Mills levelled the previous record of 32 points with a strong drive and bucket, and then brought his tally up to 34, while sealing the big victory for the Spurs with a fade-away jump shot in the dying seconds of the game.
Boomers head coach and assistant with the San Antonio Spurs Brett Brown said that the performance was one that his young charge needed to deliver, as the opportunity that was presenting itself was a rare one.
“He took advantage of a unique opportunity where you get extended minutes and yeah, you’re still trying to find wins, and he really did a great job of taking advantage of the situation,” he said.
“We knew he had to score. He’s got the capabilities of scoring and we needed him to score with the group that we had and for him to be able to put back-to-back games as he did against young guys and athletes is a real credit to him and the Spurs structure.
“He’s really done a fantastic job of fitting in with the team on all levels from a playing perspective, to being a great teammate, and our regular season has just ended and now we go into a different type of season with the playoffs and he’s done all that he needed to do and he’s been a real positive addition to the program,” he said.
The two big performances also give the 23 year old some confidence heading into preparations for London, with the news that Andrew Bogut had withdrawn due to injury placing much of the leadership responsibilities on Mills’s shoulders. According to Brown, what was most encouraging from Mills's performance today in terms of the Boomers' preparations were some of Mills’s others stats.
“What’s going to be written is that he had 34 points, but what should be written is that he had 12 assists,” said Brown.
“He really played a well-rounded game and the attention that any scorer gets I think is always balanced out by what he can do for others and when you have that kind of offensive skill-package you create attention and other people end up being open and our entire team reaps the benefits of him being pro-active with his offense,” he said.
The San Antonio Spurs play game one of their first NBA Playoff series against the Utah Jazz, tipping off Monday 30 April at 3am AEST.