The San Antonio Spurs had a chance to climb to ninth place in the Western Conference standings with a win on Monday night, but familiarly fell apart late and ended the evening just two games ahead of the 13th place Suns. Trey Lyles continued his offensive resurgence, Patty Mills provided a spark off the bench, and Lonnie Walker IV rocked the rim with his first posterization of the season.
Lyles struggled mightily throughout January, posting 4.7 points and 6.0 rebounds per game on 35-26-60 shooting splits across 15 starts. In the 12 contests since then, the first-year Spur has averaged 10.9 points per game on 54-51-80 shooting splits, and he notched his first back-to-back 20 point games of the season with another 20-piece against Indiana.
The stretch-four tallied 11 points in the first quarter alone, knocking down a trifecta of triples in the process. With LaMarcus Aldridge and Jakob Poeltl sidelined, the Pacers’ frontcourt was a major mismatch, though Lyles put forth a valiant effort against Domantas Sabonis and Myles Turner.
I’ve asked this question numerous times this year, and I’ll ask it again: Where would the Silver and Black be without the services of Patrick Sammy Mills? The 11-year pro dropped 24 points in 23 minutes and drained six three-pointers that kept the good guys within striking distance in the second half.
There are a handful of veterans who San Antonio should consider parting ways with this offseason, but Patty Mills isn’t one of them. His endless hustle, vocal leadership, and sweet shooting stroke are integral to maintaining a winning culture, and the undersized Aussie has been outstanding both on and off the court.
Walker finally finished one of those highflying contested dunks Spurs fans have eagerly awaited all season long. The 21-year-old shooting guard built a head full of steam following a defensive rebound and gave Justin Holiday his Kodak Moment with a thunderous one-handed jam.
He also channeled his inner Manu Ginobili, diving headfirst for a loose ball and firing off a perfectly placed bounce pass from his rear for a wide-open Rudy Gay slam. Lonnie undoubtedly recorded the two best highlights of the game, but his flash was matched by his substance as he shot a flawless 4-of-4 from the floor for 10 points, 4 boards, and 3 assists.