by Art Garcia, The Sports Xchange
DALLAS — The San Antonio Spurs never seem to worry about who is not there. It is the guys in uniform who matter.
Patty Mills was the latest to step up when called on.
The reserve guard scored a season-high 23 points, and the Spurs remained perfect on the road by rallying past the Dallas Mavericks 94-87 Wednesday night at American Airlines Center.
The Spurs (15-4) improved to 11-0 on the road, the third-best away start in NBA history. San Antonio also won its seventh straight in the series against Dallas, including two meetings in the past 10 days.
San Antonio, playing without three big guns, came back from a 13-point deficit in the third quarter. Mills scored 15 in the fourth, including eight points in a row as the Spurs went up 90-84.
“I thought that was the moral of that victory, not giving in no matter what,” Mills said.
Mills hit 6 of 7 shots in the final period, 9 of 12 for the game. He also was 5 of 6 from 3-point range.
The Mavericks (3-14) were led by Wesley Matthews, who had a season-high 26 points and hit five 3-pointers. Harrison Barnes scored 17.
Dallas coach Rick Carlisle ran out of bodies down the stretch. Dirk Nowitzki was out for the 12th time this season, and Deron Williams and Devin Harris were limited.
Williams finished with nine points, eight rebounds and five assists in 26 minutes. Harris played 11 minutes, all in the first half, and didn’t score. Seth Curry (14 points) also left the game late with an undisclosed injury.
“Our guys played extremely hard, and we ran out of players at the end,” Carlisle said. “We had a couple guys on minutes limits (Williams and Harris), and Seth got banged up at the end.”
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich rested Pau Gasol, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker on the second night of back-to-back games. Gasol and Ginobili didn’t even leave San Antonio, while Parker was in the building but didn’t play.
“There are no excuses,” said San Antonio’s Danny Green, who scored 11. “No matter who is in or who is out, we still have to move the ball, we still have to find people, and we still have to run the offense crisp.”
Popovich also didn’t have starters Kawhi Leonard and Green on the floor to open the second half. Leonard did score 18 of his 21 points over the last two quarters.
“I just finally started making shots and moving the ball,” Leonard said. “Obviously, Patty knocked down four or five shots in a row.”
Dallas surged ahead in the third quarter, taking a 60-47 lead with a 15-0 run. The Spurs went 12 consecutive possessions over seven minutes without scoring.
San Antonio led for most of the first half. The Mavericks went on a five-minute scoring drought in the first period and the visitors took control. The Spurs’ bench was especially active early, with Davis Bertans and Kyle Anderson making plays at both ends of the court.
San Antonio led by as many as 12 points before Curry led a Dallas push in the second quarter to get the Mavs within 43-40 at halftime.
Barnes and Williams combined for 25 points in the half.
Although the Mavericks own the worst record in the league, Carlisle isn’t disheartened.
“I’m encouraged by the competitive part of this,” he said. “Our guys have been fighting hard.”
The Mavs complete a back-to-back Thursday night at Charlotte. The Spurs return home Friday to face the Washington Wizards.