The last time the Spurs had played the Suns in Phoenix without Tony Parker, in the penultimate game of the 2011-12 regular season, backup point guard Patty Mills went off for 27 points in a four-point victory last April 25. Parker was behind the Spurs’ bench at U.S. Airways Center on Sunday night in natty business attire, nursing a sore right arm injured Thursday in one of his finest games of an MVP-candidate season. But Mills was nearby, on the bench and awaiting a call from coach Gregg Popovich, who opened the game with Nando De Colo running the show. By game’s end, it was Mills who had, once again, led the Spurs in scoring in a 97-87 victory that sent them to ?Phoenix International Airport for their final flight of the nine-game rodeo road trip. This time the destination was San Antonio, the Spurs figuratively sliding their seventh victory of the trip into the luggage bay. At 45-13, they remain atop the Western Conference and NBA standings with their next six games at the AT&T Center, where they are 22-2. Mills and Kawhi Leonard each scored 16 points to help the Spurs overcome a ragged start brought on by premature thoughts of finally getting home to familiar surroundings. Leonard also had nine rebounds and three steals. “There’s always a little bit of a mental lapse of wanting to get home,” said Mills, the Australian-born point guard who had his second-highest scoring game of the season. “But that’s what makes this team so professional, how we carry ourselves both on and off the court throughout the season. “It’s pretty impressive, just as a player on the team, watching how we carry ourselves. It was the last game on the road trip. It was important to get this one, and everyone wanted to make sure we did that.” Though De Colo had only four points and a lone assist, he committed only one turnover in 27 minutes and was solid running the team’s offense. “They both did a good job,” Popovich said of De Colo and Mills. “They got us into offense and moved the ball pretty well. Hopefully, it was a learning situation for them.” Popovich had fretted before the game about the danger of playing the final game of the rodeo grind with thoughts of returning home in the players’ heads. His fears were realized in the first quarter when Phoenix, which has the worst record in the Western Conference, outscored his team 21-19. His worries eased when the Spurs went on a 25-4 run in the first seven minutes of the second period, a stretch in which they missed only 1 of 9 shots.
Mills, De Colo pick up slack
San Antonio Express-News | Feb 25