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Aussies in NBA: Baynes explodes vs Spurs; Mills struggles
Aron Baynes had his best game as a Detroit Piston, impressing on both sides of the court against his former team the San Antonio Spurs, in a 109-99 loss.
Early foul trouble to Andre Drummond saw Baynes enter the game midway through the first quarter and making an immediate impact.
He displayed the traits which earned him his nickname ‘Banger’, crashing boards and opponents with nonchalance, leveling Spur Jonathan Simmons on one play with one of his granite screens.
At the half Baynes had 10 points (5-of-12 shooting), 6 rebounds, and a block to his name.
Despite his excellent play in the first half, Baynes didn’t return until there was 5.30 left in the 4th quarter. Again showing Stan Van Gundy's penchant to cling to his starters, like a nervous child clings to their favorite teddy bear.
Baynes remained productive in the short time he had left, finishing the game with a season-high 15 points (6-of-13 shooting), 9 boards (6 offensive!!) and a block.
He played good hard-nosed defense throughout the game, defending the rim surprisingly well and frequently put his body on the line.
This performance had been brewing in Baynes, who has found good form in the new year. In his 5 games in January, Baynes has average 9 points and 6.6 rebounds in 16 minutes, while shooting 51% from the field and 86% from the free-throw line.
Baynes’ slow start to the year can be attributed largely to off-season surgery to his ankle along with nose surgery and back spasms during the season.
With his injury issues now seemingly behind him, and the return of Brandon Jennings to bolster the bench, it’s no coincidence Baynes has improved his output.
Jennings, who is no stranger to playing with physical Australian centers, has been goading Baynes to play with the type of edge he played with today against the Spurs:
"I like when he's pissed off," Jennings told MLive.com about Baynes.
"I don't like when he's laughing. When he's pissed off, it's like, 'It's on.' I like that about him."
He's only been playing with Baynes for a short time, but already Jennings has discovered the power of his famous screening ability.
When asked about what he'd learnt about playing with Baynes, he responded with "That if you're a defender and you're guarding me, good luck trying to get through that screen."
I think Mr Simmons would agree with you.
Patty's shooting slump
While Baynes’ play has ascended as we ticked into he 2016, Patty Mills play has descended.
Mills again struggled on the offensive end against the Pistons. He scored just 2 points (1-of-7 shooting, 0-0f-1 3-point), adding 3 rebounds, 1 assist and 1 steal in 16 minutes.
Even when he finally hit his first bucket at the end of the 3rd quarter, it just failed to beat the buzzer by a fingertip.
Defensively he was good, ramping up the peskiness, causing 2 turnovers when the Pistons tried to inbound after a score.
Mills is officially in a shooting slump. In his 6 games in January he is averaging a mere 4.2 points on an ice-cold 24% from the field and 30% on 3-pointers.
One thing is for certain and that's Patty remaining positive and the good news is he's now one game closer to a big game!