Mills hits winner, Spurs outlast Suns in record-setting OT
MEXICO CITY (AP) — San Antonio set a record. Patty Milly got the Spurs a win, too.
Mills made a jumper from the free throw line with 0.3 seconds left in the Spurs' record-setting fourth consecutive overtime game, and they outlasted the Phoenix Suns 121-119 on Saturday.
The NBA record book shows 20 instances of teams playing three straight overtime games — but never four straight, like the Spurs have. They're 3-1 in those games, their best stretch since opening the season 4-1.
“We’ve had four overtime games in a row now and we’ve won three of them and I think there’s something positive to be said for that," Mills said. “Tonight it was the execution. We haven’t had the greatest of seasons but we’re learning as we go."
DeMar DeRozan pulled the Spurs even with a drive and fling — after a foul by Mikal Bridges — down the right side of the lane, but missed the free throw. The ball went out of bounds on a scramble after the missed free throw, and San Antonio kept the ball after a replay review.
Phoenix, with star guard Devin Booker sitting out because of a sore forearm, overcame a late seven-point deficit to force overtime on Kelly Oubre Jr's 3-pointer from the corner in the final seconds.
Mills led the Spurs with 26 points.
“If it doesn't go in, then it doesn't work," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said about Mills' winner. “This one happened to go in."
DeRozan, LaMarcus Aldridge and Dejounte Murray each added 18 for San Antonio, and Lonnie Walker IV had 16 on his 21st birthday.
Ricky Rubio had 25 points and 13 assists for Phoenix. Frank Kaminsky added 22, and Oubre had 17.
“With Devin out, we knew Ricky was going to have to have a big game," Phoenix coach Monty Williams said. “And he just kept making play after play after play. ... But as a young team, Ricky's a guy that we rely on in a lot of situations."
MORE GAMES IN MEXICO
Saturday was the 30th game — 10th of the regular-season variety — that the NBA has held in Mexico, and Commissioner Adam Silver said more are being planned. The Mexico City-based Capitanes team will join the G League next year, and Silver said that move may mean the NBA pivots back to bringing preseason games to Mexico going forward.
“If we bring preseason games, which we have in the past, we can work in conjunction with our G League affiliate, work to grow the game and spend more time in the community,” Silver said.
Besides the two regular-season games — Dallas beat Detroit on Thursday night — and the G League announcement, the NBA also opened Mexico’s first NBA Store on this trip. The 2,000-square-foot space opened in Mexico City’s upscale Polanco neighborhood.
Spurs: San Antonio has been below the .500 mark for more days this season than it has been in the previous 10 seasons combined; 32 and counting this season, 28 in the previous decade. The Spurs will soon spend their 100th day with a losing record over the last 22 years — amazingly, every other team in the NBA has spent at least 1,000 days below .500 in that span.
Suns: This was the next-to-last game in Deandre Ayton’s 25-game suspension without pay after testing positive for a diuretic. He can return Tuesday night when Phoenix visits the Los Angeles Clippers. ... Phoenix has played 20 times outside the U.S. or Canada, with the majority of those appearances coming in either Mexico or Italy. The Suns have played in those nations six times each.
Mexico becomes the fifth country in which Popovich has coached a game in 2019. The list: the U.S., Canada (San Antonio played at Toronto on Feb. 22), Australia (USA Basketball played three games there in August before the World Cup), China (where the U.S. finished seventh at the World Cup), and now Mexico. He’ll add Japan to the list next year during the Tokyo Olympics.
Williams played for Popovich in San Antonio, began his coaching career with the Spurs as an intern in 2004-05 — a title year for the silver and black — and had been a vice president of basketball operations in San Antonio from 2016 through 2018. Phoenix’s next game is a reunion of sorts for Williams as well; the Suns play Monday night against Portland, the team that gave him his first assistant coaching position in 2005.
Spurs: At Houston on Monday night.
Suns: Host Portland on Monday night.