Ex-Spurs LaMarcus Aldridge, Patty Mills ‘touched’ by tribute

SAN ANTONIO — The triumph by the Nets had Patty Mills and LaMarcus Aldridge smiling.

The tribute from the Spurs had them crying.

The pair, on Friday night, made their first returns to San Antonio since leaving for Brooklyn, and they received a warm reception from Spurs fans and were honored with a video tribute at AT&T Center.

“It was cool that we get to share the moment together because obviously we both were here for some time,” Mills said. “So it was cool and unique for us to be able to share the moment together. So it was really cool to share the moment.”

“Ah man, I was touched,” Aldridge added. “It’s always nice to see what you achieved and those moments that were special to me and this organization. When I left Portland it was a bitter ending, so it was nice to have it here.”

Aldridge had 16 points and seven assists in the Nets’ 117-102 win. Mills, who played a decade as a Spur and won a title in 2014 — added nine points. Mills went down the Spurs’ bench hugging former teammates. Coach Gregg Popovich humorously refused at first, before relenting.

Former Spurs Patty Mills (left) and LaMarcus Aldridge embrace after watching a video tribute before the Nets’ 117-102 win.
NBAE via Getty Images

“You could tell it was really intimate for both of them to return back, I think Patty had a few tears in his eyes before. He was trying to hold it together,” Kyrie Irving said. “And LA as well, being back home, he lives right down the street … it’s just great to see that they respect them at a high level.”

After the Nets agreed to try to trade Paul Millsap to a team with which he can play, coach Steve Nash commented on the franchise’s failed experiment with the veteran.

“Just an unfortunate situation,” Nash said. “Paul’s been great, his spirit and the way he’s been a great teammate and accepted a limited role thus far has been difficult for him. It’s not what I’d expected going into it, but it very rarely is what you expect. So we’ll try to find a solution — a positive solution — for Paul.

“You add it all up and there’s five centers,” Nash said. “That makes it difficult. For different reasons and different parts of the season, you press different buttons. And although he got some opportunities, he didn’t get a ton of opportunities and I feel that was unfortunate for Paul, and I understand. Just a difficult situation that we didn’t necessarily foresee. But here we are.”

Nets assistant coach David Vanterpool was fined $10,000 for “interfering with play” near the end of the Nets’ win Wednesday at Washington, and the team was docked $25,000. Vanterpool stuck his hand out while standing by the Nets’ bench and deflected a pass from the Wizards’ Spencer Dinwiddie to Kyle Kuzma. The refs missed it during the game.

The Nets refused a request to speak to Vanterpool.

“I know he feels terrible about it,” Nash said. “In the moment, we’ve all made mistakes in the heat of the moment, and that’s the consequence. But he clearly feels bad about it and we’ve all made those mistakes before.”

DeAndre’ Bembry (back spasms) returned to action after missing two games and scored two points in nine minutes. Nic Claxton (left hamstring) missed a sixth straight game, and Nash was unsure if he would play Sunday at Minnesota.

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