Australia's Patty Mills has continued his run of fine form with a stunning performance for the San Antonio Spurs against the Dallas Mavericks - but it left a lot of people wanting.
Kawhi Leonard had 24 points and Mills 17 as the escaped with a 96-91 victory over the struggling Dallas Mavericks on Monday night for their sixth straight victory.
Despite the win, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich was less than impressed. "That was a pathetic performance on the part of the Spurs," said Popovich after the match. "You know, they had some guys out. We had some guys out, but they had a lot more out than we did. I thought we showed a lack of humility, a lack of respect for the opponent, a very pathetic performance at both ends of the court, both in execution and in grunt, in fibre, in desire. It was an awful performance."
Mills agreed that while the win was helpful, the Spurs simply weren't consistent enough in their attack and defence.
"There is such a thing as an ugly win and that's probably it," he said. "But we probably let ourselves down in terms of bringing that energy and effort, that usually we're pretty solid at.
I didn't think we were consistent with that throughout everyone tonight. We win them together, and we lose them together, and we get better together.
"A lot of things that we can obviously work on from that game to move forward for the next one. We're getting there."
Dallas guard Seth Curry matched a career high with 23 points, shooting 5 for 10 on three-pointers. Wesley Matthews and Harrison Barnes each had 20 points in the Mavericks' sixth consecutive loss.
With the Mavericks trailing 92-91, Barnes missed a fadeaway 17-footer with 15 seconds left that Manu Ginobili rebounded before being fouled. Ginobili hit a pair of free throws to extend the lead to 94-91, and Curry missed a three- pointer with six seconds remaining.
San Antonio have won six straight against Dallas and 12 in a row at home. The once-heated rivalry between the Texas teams has cooled considerably with the Spurs' sustained success and the Mavericks' injuries and free-agent troubles. Dallas (2-11) are off to their worst start since 1993-1994, when the Mavericks opened 1-23 in a 13-win season.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Tony Parker were in uniform but neither played as Popovich opted to rest his veterans.
Spurs rookies Dejounte Murray and Davis Bertans made their first starts in place of Parker and Aldridge, respectively, and fellow rookie Bryn Forbes also saw extended playing time.
Barnes took advantage of the inexperience, making all but one of his six attempts in scoring 10 points in the opening quarter.
Dallas shot eight for 27 on three-pointers.
The Spurs enjoyed greater success when their veterans took the court. Leonard drove the lane and dropped a bounce pass between Dwight Powell and Dorian Finney-Smith that David Lee dunked ahead of a foul by Salah Mejri to pare the lead to 63-62.
After Ginobili missed a three-pointer, Lee tipped out the rebound to Patty Mills for a three that gave San Antonio a 68-65 lead.