From the opening minute, there was no doubt it was going to be a good night for Patrick Mills. For the Argentineans, it looked like it was going to be a long one.
Second-year Portland Trailblazer Patrick Mills dominated while leading his native Australia to a 90-72 victory over the world’s No. 1 ranked team, Argentina, in the final game of their three-match series.
Mills was dominant from the outset, setting up teammate Luke Neville for a dunk with a no-look pass for the opening score of the game. On the next possession, the lightning-quick Aussie applied strangling defensive pressure and forced an Argentinean miss.
Following a scrappy sequence, Mills calmly hit his first shot of the game, a three-pointer in transition, to give Australia an 8-3 lead. It was an ominous start, as Mills stayed hot throughout the first quarter, finishing the period with eight points and without missing a shot.
In the second quarter, the 6’0” Indigenous point guard took over. He found seams in the Argentinean defense effortlessly, using his quickness to blow past defenders and finish at the rim.
Mills aggressively attacked the basket and drew fouls at will, while keeping the Argentinean defense guessing by nailing an array of jump shots from mid-range, the perimeter, and behind the arc. His dominant second quarter gave Australia a 48-40 lead as he finished the half with a blistering 21 points in 16 minutes.
In the second half, Mills carved up the hapless Argentinean defense, breaking down his assigned defender off the dribble and driving purposefully to the basket.
When Mills wasn’t dishing no-look, drop off assists and alley-oops to fellow NBA player Nathan Jawai, he made crafty layups and dropped in a pretty teardrop floater as the shot-clock buzzer sounded. He made intelligent decisions in transition and used his open-court speed to create space and set up wing players with pinpoint passes.
The speedy point guard's full-court defensive pressure completely stifled his opponents throughout the game, drawing several offensive fouls and forcing numerous turnovers.
Tempers flared as Mills’ speed got under the skin of an irritated Nicolas De Los Santos. De Los Santos repeatedly struggled to stay in front of the 21-year-old Australian and was frustrated into committing a wild foul that resulted in a near scuffle between the teams.
Mills remained calm and continued his steady play to score efficiently the whole game, hitting 9-of-15 field goals, 9-of-10 free throws, and 5-of-9 three-pointers. He also collected five rebounds to go with four assists and was fouled nine times.
Mills fittingly capped the scoring with a three-pointer and finished the game with a sizzling 32 points in just 29 minutes.
The dominant display should give the second-year Trailblazer confidence ahead of his first NBA Summer League, where Portland plays five games from July 11-18. Mills will likely play a major role in the Blazers’ team, sharing the backcourt with Portland's 2010 draft pick, Armon Johnson.
After breaking a bone in his foot on the first day of Summer League practice last year, Mills played sparingly in his rookie season with the Blazers but was dominant during his stint in the NBA D-League.
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