Australian Patty Mills passed former teammate Manu Ginobili for most threes off the bench with one team in the San Antonio Spurs 125-104 over the Portland Trail Blazers.
Mills passed the record in the fourth quarter to amass 930 made shots beyond the arc in scoring 21 points off the bench to help the Spurs to their 8th win of the season, along with LaMarcus Aldridge who had 22 points and DeMar DeRozan’s 20 points and 11 assists.
Mills joined the Spurs in 2012 after being drafted by the Portland Trail Blazers in 2009 and has been a regular fixture in legendary coach Gregg Popovich’s team. During his time in San Antonio, Mills was teammates with legends Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Ginobli.
The Australian said he was oblivious to the record but highlighted Ginobli’s impact on the way he approached his game.
“I obviously had no idea about it so that’s news to me,” Mills said of the milestone post-match.
“I think there’s something there in understanding your role and trying to make the most of that opportunity but at the same time remaining true to who you are as a player. Manu was the perfect example of that and how he accepted his role.”
Rudy Gay also hit 21 points off the bench as the Spurs reserves outscored Portland backups 59-24. Reserve center Jakob Poeltl added 11 points and seven rebounds, six of which came on the offensive glass.
“Their bench hurt us,” Blazers coach Terry Stotts said. “The shooting off the bench, the second-chance opportunities. They really hurt us. They had 10 second-chance points in the fourth quarter.”
Aldridge, playing against the team he spent nine years with, got things rolling for the Spurs.
“He set the tone early,” Gay said. “He got to his spots and he knocked down his shots. Him knocking down shots and pulling out the big men kind of opens things up. It opens up cracks and DeMar slips through those cracks.”
Aldridge scored eight points in the first quarter.
“He didn’t catch and think about it,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He was just determined to let it fly.”
Between DeRozan and point guard Dejounte Murray, the Spurs also had two players with 11 assists apiece while the Blazers had just 20 total assists as a team.
“They’re unselfish guys and they don’t really care who scores,” Popovich said of his two offensive conductors. “They just play the game the right way.”
Damian Lillard led Portland with 35 points.
Carmelo Anthony’s basket with 2 1/2 minutes left in the third quarter gave the Trail Blazers an 80-78 lead.
The Spurs took over from there, later using an 11-0 run for a 95-82 lead early in the fourth period. Rodney Hood’s 3-pointer on the next Blazers possession after a timeout stopped that burst, but San Antonio kept pulling away.
With his bench playing so well and extending the lead, Popovich elected stick with a bench-heavy unit to close out the victory.
Spurs: The game was played on Martin Luther King Jr. Day — the NBA celebrates the holiday with a big slate of games every year. Popovich, who is often outspoken about matters outside of the game, called the civil rights leader a “modern founding father” and the “conscience” of the country.
Blazers: After leaving Saturday night’s game against Atlanta with a sprained foot, guard CJ McCollum will be out at least another week, Stotts said. McCollum will be re-evaluated next week after MRIs showed the sprain. McCollum was averaging a career-high 26.7 points and five assists per game prior to the injury. Hood got the start in McCollum’s place, with Stotts citing his preference to bring Gary Trent Jr.’s scoring off the bench.
Hood had a season-high 21 points in his first start since suffering a torn Achilles on Dec. 6, 2019. “The coaches and (Lillard) were telling me to be aggressive,” Hood said after the game. “I felt good about that and it did a lot for my confidence.” Lillard didn’t want to speculate too much after the game but he says he’s “not worried” about McCollum missing extended time.