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On the eve of the 2020-21 season, Patty Mills vowed to bring 'Boomers Patty' to the NBA, a sight Australian fans have grown accustomed to when he pulls on the national team jersey as the team's primary scoring option.
Against the LA Clippers, Mills may as well have had on a green and gold jersey on as he ripped 3-pointers with no hesitation, draining a career-high eight on his way to a season-high 27 points and a 116-113 win.
With the game in the balance down the stretch, Mills put the Spurs up by three with 5.7 seconds remaining after he was fouled hustling for a rebound. He went 1-of-2 at the line, missing his first free throw of the season.
But it mattered for little as Kawhi Leonard's potential game-tying three rimmed out and moved the Spurs to 3-4 on the season.
MIlls' huge night came playing 29 minutes off the bench, becoming the first Spurs player with 8+ threes off the bench since Stephen Jackson in 2002. The Spurs also matched their franchise record for 3-pointers in a game, knocking down 20-of-40 from deep.
Patty Mills is the first Spur with 8+ threes off the bench since Stephen Jackson in 2002.- StatMuse (@statmuse) January 6, 2021
He finished with 27 points tonight. pic.twitter.com/hN5OXkUUhP
"It's my 10th season here now and just being able to find my way and I'm in a good place both physically and mentally," Mills said post-game.
"The way I feel is the best that I've evet felt, so to be able to put that into this aggressive mindset of still being me, who I am on the floor and I gotta stick with that, that's my identity on the floor and I can't lose that."
The 32-year-old had it going from the jump as he caught fire at the end of the first quarter, closing the period scoring 13-straight points.
🔥🔥🔥@Patty_Mills closes Q1, scoring 1️⃣3️⃣ straight points! #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/zmh4WOFFJl- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) January 6, 2021
The Spurs kept it up to open the second quarter, going on an 18-3 run as they went into half-time up 19 points. The Clippers hit back in the third, behind Kawhi Leonard and Patrick Beverley, piling up 40 points in the period to cut the deficit to 85-84, before Mills helped the Spurs pull away once again.
San Antonio opened the fourth quarter on a 12-2 run, with Mills drilling three 3-pointers in that stretch to push the lead out to 111-96.
"Stick with us, Spurs Fam." 🤙- San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 6, 2021
Hear from @Patty_Mills after a hard fought win in LA! pic.twitter.com/9gDcm1BUQP
With Mills now the elder statesman of the Spurs squad, the Aussie veteran had taken his leadership to a new level, guiding the young roster both on the court and in the locker room. Their current roster is the youngest since Gregg Popovich became head coach in 1996, with an average age of just 25.5 years.
"Us as a group, were going through those learning stages," Mills added.
"We've got young guys, we've got new guys and we're trying to find our way, trying to find our own identity as a team and were slowly going to get there but every game is gonna be a learning curve for us and you see what we can do tonight, we just got to keep it going."
Dejounte Murray added 21 points, five assists and five rebounds on the night, while Rudy Gay chipped in 16 points off the bench.
For the Clippers, who were without Paul George, Kawhi Leonard led them in scoring, finishing with 30 points and 10 rebounds. Nic Batum added 21 points and nine rebounds, while Patrick Beverley enjoyed a sizzling shooting night of his own, connecting on 6-of-9 from beyond the arc for his 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.
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