Duncan Notches Double Double In 2nd Game Back After Knee Injury
RETURN TO FORM: St. Croix’s Tim Duncan
MILWAUKEE – The San Antonio Spurs changed things up but kept on rolling with a 123-98 win over Milwaukee Bucks on Monday night.
St. Croix’s Tim Duncan delivered 14 points (7-12 FG, 0-1 FT), 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals, and one block in 27 minutes during the victory.
Duncan was held scoreless for the first time in his 1,360 career games during Saturday’s win versus the Rockets. However, he mustered up a vintage showing on Monday against the Bucks.
The Big Fundamental will be rested by coach Gregg Popovich to keep him fresh for the playoffs, and Duncan is no longer a top offensive option for the Spurs. However, he is still capable of turning back the clock on any given night.
Australian guard Patty Mills was promoted to the starting line-up as a replacement for Tony Parker (right hip soreness) and scored 10 points and had five assists while swing men Kawhi Leonard (24 points) and Jonathon Simmons (18 points) were among eight Spurs to score eight points or more.
Bucks guard Khris Middleton led his side with 19 points but the home side’s defence was unable to put any stops on the Spurs after a closely fought opening quarter.
Popovich said his side wasn’t up to scratch early but improved as the game went on with their record now 30-6.
“We knew that [inside scoring] was a strength of theirs so we tried to take it away as best we could,” Popovich said.
“We started out very lethargically defensively but the second quarter I think they only scored 18 or 19 and our defence was very good and that’s where we got separation.”
Popovich said Mills had handled starting duties well after not impressing his coach in the first quarter.
“I thought he started out slowly – he looked a little bit unsure, but as the game went on he was wonderful,” Popovich said.
After spending so much of his Spurs career as a key bench player, Mills admitted starting does change how he plays, but he enjoyed the opportunity.
“It is a different style of play to how our second unit plays,” Mills said.
“It’s probably not that case in other teams but in our team the first unit plays a certain way and our second unit plays different just because of our personnel and the strengths each group has.
“Guys step down all the time and other guys fill in the spots but overall nothing changes, it’s still the same concept of how we should get things done and we got it done in the end.”
Mills said he was especially happy to see the Spurs have 32 assists and shoot 49 per cent from the field.
“When we move the ball that way – that’s Spurs basketball,” Mills said.
“When the ball swings around it’s no shock we have so many guys in double figures.”
With the NBA season approaching halfway, Mills said the Spurs were coming along well defensively but still had a lot of improvement to come as they look to challenge for the championship.
“We are happy with where we are at but now we have to mould everything together,” Mills said.
“There was lots of lapses in tonight’s game but I think we are at a stage now where we know what we are good at and what we can do better.
“If we can mould it in the second half of the year we will be up there but we know we have a long way to go.”