Forgotten man Patty Mills rises up in Nets’ win over Hawks

Patty Mills, Brooklyn Nets

Last season, Patty Mills enjoyed one of his finest individual plays in the NBA, averaging 11.4 points in a career-high 29 minutes per game. But this season, the Australian gunner has been buried under the Brooklyn Nets bench with the team relatively healthy.

On Wednesday night, a resurgent Mills showed up in Atlanta when Nets coach Jacque Vaughn called his number.

The 34-year-old Mills hit all three attempts from behind the arc en route to a 12-point performance in 12 minutes off the bench to help the Nets extend their winning streak to 10. It was his first meaningful performance in non-garbage minutes in a long while.

Vaughn has prioritized playing the younger and more athletic players ahead of Mills. Despite his sporadic playing time, the veteran guard understood the situation and has been a positive locker-room presence.

“I think the ability of the team to be able to come together on and off the court, you’re seeing trust in everyone. Whether it’s on defense, whether it’s sharing the ball, making big plays, making big shots. You start to see the team gel and count on one another, which is important to be the last team standing.”

Patty Mills postgame via Yes Network

Mills has only seen action in four games this December. He laid a fat egg in six meaningless minutes in the Nets’ home win against the Cleveland Cavaliers three nights ago. He had 13 points against a Golden Warriors team that played without Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson and a season-high 23 points in the Nets’ epic 136-133 win in Indiana where seven of their key players rested.

But Mills can’t complain with the Nets on a 10-game winning streak that had them zooming to the second-best record in the Eastern Conference after a rocky 2-8 start that led to Steve Nash’s firing.

“The [proof] is in the pudding. We’ve been able to show ourselves what we can do, and now it’s just being able to be professional enough to be consistent with it. We’ve proven ourselves the way that we want to play on both ends of the floor. Now it’s just a matter of being consistent with it.

Patty Mills postgame via Yes Network

Mills isn’t the type of player who stirs drama. The Nets are fortunate to have the one-time NBA champion guiding them on their title pursuit this season, with playing time or no playing time.

Follow this writer on Twitter: @alderalmo

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