Patty Mills glanced down and let out a sigh, knowing this sequence likely meant the end.
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¡°It was like in a matter of 30 seconds,¡± Mills said. ¡°I knew if we lost the game, it was because of that.¡±
So instead of sulking, Mills tightened up and combined with Kawhi Leonard to pour in 24 of San Antonio¡¯s 33 points in the fourth quarter as the Spurs defeated the Dallas Mavericks 94-87 on Wednesday to avoid dropping back-to-back games to teams with records below .500 for the first time since February 2010.
Early in the fourth quarter, such an undertaking seemed daunting.
With 10 minutes, 20 seconds remaining, Seth Curry drained a 3-pointer to give the Mavericks a 71-65 lead. Then Curry drove into the teeth of the defense for an 11-footer as Mills and Leonard erred in communicating the correct responsibilities on the play. As the duo discussed the defensive miscommunication on the ensuing inbounds play, Wesley Matthews swiped Leonard¡¯s errant pass only to be fouled by Mills, and sent to the line where he¡¯d put the Mavericks ahead 74-67.
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¡°I know I was involved in two or three plays there where defensively we screwed up,¡± Mills said. ¡°We let a 3-[pointer] in, a layup, and then a foul. So that was seven points there that I wasn¡¯t happy at all with. The mindset [was] aggressive, and not giving in. I thought that was the moral of that victory; not giving I no matter what. So it was a big grind game.¡±
The Spurs left center Pau Gasol in San Antonio along with reserve guard Manu Ginobili, as coach Gregg Popovich said the duo was ¡°banged up¡± and needed rest. In addition, starting point guard Tony Parker suited up, but didn¡¯t play a single minute as Popovich opted to rest him, too.