The San Antonio Spurs held their nerve down the stretch to secure a 107-102 win over the Miami Heat on Indigenous Night.
The Heat led by three points with 5:18 remaining in the fourth, before the Spurs closed the game on a 12-4 run to seal the win.
VOTE NOW FOR YOUR 2020 NBA ALL-STARS!
LaMarcus Aldridge led the way with 21 points, while DeMar DeRozan's impressive form continued, posting a near triple-double of 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists.
Five Heat players scored in double figures led by Bam Adebayo's 21 pints and 16 rebounds, while Goran Dragic added 19, Kendrick Nunn 18 and Jimmy Butler 16.
Mills leads the charge off the bench
On first-ever Indigenous night in San Antonio, Patty Mills put on a show off the bench, with 18 points to spark the Spurs to victory.
Mills, a champion for Indigenous advocacy addressed the crowd ahead of tip-off on a night which celebrated Indigenous cultures around the world, teaming up with members of with San Antonio's earliest settlers, the Tāp Pīlam Coahuiltecan Nation.
"I'd like to thank the San Antonio Spurs and everyone who contributed in making this the NBA's first-ever Indigenous Night."- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) January 19, 2020
🇦🇺 @Patty_Mills addressed the home crowd ahead of today's game with a special message (via: @spurs) pic.twitter.com/eBVJszwP1Q
"It's an important night and it's really important to Patty, for the Indigenous people here in Texas, it's important for all of us, but it's sort of double with him, because of his history and his background," head coach Gregg Popovich said post-game .
"But he didn't play like he did because of that, he does that every night. His energy has been there his whole career, it's who he is."
The Aussie was at his energetic best, filling it up in the first half, with 14 of his 18 points coming in the opening 24 minutes.
In the second quarter, Mills picked up another piece of Spurs history, knocking down the 1000th three-pointer of his career. Mills leads all Australians in NBA history in three-pointers made, ahead of Joe Ingles (762) and Matthew Dellavedova (386).
.@Patty_Mills eclipsed 1,000 career three-pointers today! 👌- San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 20, 2020
He's the first Australian to reach 1K in NBA history. 🇦🇺 pic.twitter.com/juxiLoFZoY
The Spurs bench outscored the Heat reserves 48-30, with Marco Belinelli adding 12 points and Derrick White 11.
Spurs clamp down in fourth quarter
In a back-and-forth encounter, the Spurs held their nerve down the stretch with some big shots, but it was their work on the defensive end that put them over the line.
They held the Heat to just 18 points in the final frame on 8-of-21 from the field and 0-of-7 from three, holding them to just four points over the final 5:18 of the game.
"That was definitely the key and we've been searching for that to be what we can hang our hat on and obviously when we play solid defence, team defence and hold teams to low numbers it's good," Mills said post-game .
"We obviously didn't do that in the first quarter, but to have a last quarter of full lock-in defensively, execution that way, where we hold them to 18 points and come out with the win. So it's just between the ears, strong mindset and knowing that we've got to get it done together."
🇦🇺 @Patty_Mills provided a huge spark off the bench to help the @spurs secure a 107-102 win over the @MiamiHEAT on Indigenous Night!- NBA Australia (@NBA_AU) January 20, 2020
📊: 18 PTS | 5 REB | 3 AST | 4 3PM pic.twitter.com/02xVAqpohF
As a collective, the Spurs closed out hard, pressured the Heat's ball handlers and crashed the glass, but one play stood out among them all, from none other than Patty Mills.
Late in the fourth quarter with the Spurs down one, Mills hustled from a mile away to beat Meyers Leonard to a loose ball going out of bounds, throwing it back off the Heat big man to give the Spurs possession, kick-starting an 8-0 run.
"Loose ball, 50/50 balls, the determination of winning plays. I think we've always been about that here with the Spurs culture of always making winning plays, Mills continued. "You see Tony [Parker], Manu [Ginobili] and Tim [Duncan] make winning plays for so long I guess it's in the DNA to be able to get things done."
Patty Mills hustles to save the ball and regain possession for the Spurs, earning your Heads Up Play of the Day! pic.twitter.com/d5amPTciqj- NBA TV (@NBATV) January 20, 2020
With the Spurs in front 105-102, they successfully challenged a foul call on DeMar DeRozan that would have sent Jimmy Butler to the line to complete a three-point play, helping keep the Heat at bay at a crucial point in the game.
DeRozan's hot form continues
Entering today's game, DeMar DeRozan was in the midst of a sizzling 13-game streak of scoring 20+ points on 50 percent shooting.
While he shot 7-of-16 from the field, bringing the streak to an end, he made big plays all night for the Spurs, recording 20 points, nine rebounds and nine assists in the win.
👏 @DeMar_DeRozan's near triple-double of 20 PTS, 9 REB, 9 AST helps the @spurs top Miami! #GoSpursGo pic.twitter.com/WRcx8kaL3j- NBA (@NBA) January 19, 2020
With the win, the Spurs are now 18-23 on the season, 1.5 games back of the eighth seed in the Western Conference, while the Heat sit second in the East with a 29-13 record.
The views on this page do not necessarily reflect the views of the NBA or its clubs.