CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The San Antonio Spurs' backcourt is riddled with injuries these days, but Patty Mills solved the problem on Saturday night.
The fifth-year backup point guard exploded for a season-high 32 points, including 18 in the decisive fourth quarter, as the Spurs beat the Charlotte Bobcats 104-100.
Mills was 10 of 13 from the field, 8 of 9 from the free-throw line and hit four 3-pointers in 25 minutes on a night when the Spurs were without guards Manu Ginobili and Marco Belinelli and were missing an ailing Tony Parker down the stretch.
"Patty was terrific tonight," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "He has been big like this for us before. His motor is always going. He's played on the Australian Olympic team for I don't know how many years, and he's been all over the world in all kinds of situations, so he's not impressed with the NBA. He just comes to play."
Mills downplayed the performance afterward, saying he was just part of a collective relief effort.
"I think it's important for all of us to step up right now, whether it's the backcourt or not, and I think that's why we've managed to do well while all the guys are out," he said. "Everybody's been able to step up and collectively fill in some shoes that are usually quite tough to fill with Manu and those types of guys.
"It was really just a team effort out there tonight. We just played Spurs basketball."
The win moved the Spurs to 37-14 and boosted their road record to 19-6, the best in the NBA. That's significant especially because the Spurs are in the middle of a nine-game road trip, which will continue on through the All-Star break.
"It's tough to win games on the road," Mills said. "It's tough to win games in the NBA. But I think we knuckle down and focus, especially on this rodeo road trip.
"We know there's a lot of adversity we're going to fight, so we knuckle down that extra bit and come together collectively a little bit more. We do things a little bit harder, a little bit stronger, a little bit smarter. That's the key, I think. We do it as a group."
In a game that saw 12 ties and 15 lead changes, the Spurs seized control in the final seven minutes. Center Jeff Ayres' bucket with 7:58 left gave San Antonio the lead for good at 84-82, and the Spurs pushed the lead to as many as eight from there.
Charlotte wouldn't go away, so it took four free throws from Spurs guard Nando DeColo in the final 9.5 seconds to salt the win away.
Mills, who fell two points shy of his career high, was 5 of 5 from the field and 8 of 9 from the free-throw line in the fourth quarter.
"It was nothing different than any other game," Mills said. "Just a couple more shots fell, which for me was fortunate. But I was just playing."
The Spurs also got 16 points and 13 rebounds from forward Tim Duncan, 15 points from DeColo and 13 points from center Boris Diaw.
"They have skilled, smart players," Bobcats coach Steve Clifford said. "They don't put anybody in the game that doesn't know how to play and doesn't have a skill. They are as well-coached as any team in the league. They have their superstars, but they know how to put a team together."
The Bobcats (22-29) got 26 points from center Al Jefferson and 23 from guard Gerald Henderson. Guard Kemba Walker had 18 and guard Ramon Sessions scored 10, and forward Michael Kidd-Gilchrist added a season-high 12 rebounds.
"Our effort was good," Clifford said. "Our attitude was good. We fought hard and we had chances to win the game. We did a lot of good things. At the end of the day, we didn't play with the level of discipline that we needed to.
"It was a good effort, but we're going to have to play a much more disciplined game to beat a team like that."
NOTES: The Spurs were playing the fourth game of a nine-game road trip, sandwiched around the All-Star break. They will continue on the Eastern portion with games at Detroit on Monday and at Boston on Wednesday. After the All-Star break, they will face the Los Angeles Clippers, Portland and Phoenix on the road before returning home on Feb. 26 against Detroit. ... The Bobcats were returning home from a successful 3-1 West Coast trip that included wins over Denver, the Los Angeles 0Lakers and Golden State. C Al Jefferson averaged 28.6 points and 12 rebounds on the trip, with 40 points and 18 rebounds against the Lakers. ... F Tim Duncan and G Tony Parker were back in the Spurs' starting lineup on Saturday night after sitting out a 103-89 loss at Brooklyn on Thursday night. Coach Gregg Popovich gives the 37-year-old Duncan a night off occasionally to rest, and Parker sat out with tightness in his back. The Spurs also got F Boris Diaw back after he missed the Brooklyn game with food poisoning. ... The Spurs were without C Tiago Splitter (calf), G Marco Belinelli (back spasms), G Manu Ginobili (left hamstring) and F Kawhi Leonard (fractured fourth metacarpal). ... The Bobcats have not had C Brendan Haywood (stress fracture left foot) any this season and lost F Jeffery Taylor (ruptured right Achilles) for the rest of the season. ... The Bobcats will remain home to face Dallas on Tuesday night.