Aldridge’s 56 points tough act to follow in rematch
|Toronto Star 11 Jan 2019 at 16:58|
Thursday night’s game between the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder set a handful of records, but it was the Spurs who won, 154-147.
Although he has averaged 20 points or more regularly, and frequently winds up in the 30s and 40s, the Spurs’ LaMarcus Aldridge had never scored 50 points in an NBA game before Thursday. And at halftime, it didn’t look like Thursday would be the night, either; Aldridge had only 14 points. But a strong second half took him to 43, and the two overtimes gave him the extra minutes he needed to total 56, a new career high.
He tallied the 56 with six layups, three dunks, 11 mid-range shots, and 16 free throws. Notably, the 6-foot-11 Aldridge attempted no 3-pointers, which have powered most of the recent record-setting offensive performances in the modern NBA. (That was not surprising; Aldridge is only 2 for 14 on the year from distance.) Still, in padding his scoring in 1s and 2s, Aldridge became the first player to net 50 points without attempting a 3-pointer, since Jermaine O’Neal had 55 for the Indiana Pacers in 2005.
It was the most points by a Spurs player since David Robinson scored 71 in 1994, and the most against the Thunder franchise since Tom Chambers of the Phoenix Suns poured in 60 against the team — then still the Seattle SuperSonics — in 1990.
Aldridge was 16 of 16 on free throws, ranking second this season for perfection from the line. (James Harden had a 19 of 19 performance against the Detroit Pistons in November.) He also pitched in on defence, blocking four Thunder shots.
“Well, he’s been a beast all year long,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich told ESPN after the game. “He anchors us on both ends of the floor.”
As one might expect, Aldridge took a lot of shots in posting his big number. His 33 attempts were the most for a Spurs player since Tony Parker took 36 in a 2008 game.
While Aldridge stayed mostly down low, his teammates fired away from behind the 3-point line with almost superhuman accuracy: making 16 of 19 attempts. Their percentage, .842, was the highest ever for a team that took at least 10 3-pointers in a game, surpassing a 14 of 17 (. 824) performance by the Chicago Bulls in 2005. It was a balanced attack, too, with Marco Belinelli going 5 for 5, Davis Bertans 4 for 4 and Bryn Forbes 3 for 3.
Russell Westbrook had 24 assists in the loss, the second-highest total of this century, trailing only Rajon Rondo’s 25 for the Pelicans last season. That was part of a triple-double: Westbrook also had 24 points and 13 rebounds. That particular combination of at least 20 points, 10 rebounds and 20 assists is a rarity. It has been done only 12 times in the NBA since 1960, and only one other time this century, in 2016 — by Westbrook.
LaMarcus Aldridge, left, did most of the scoring for the Spurs, but DeMar DeRozan added 16 in the win. (Darren Abate / AP)
The combined 301 points in the game was the most since 2006, when the Suns and Nets combined to put up 318 in a double-overtime game. The Spurs’ 154 points were the most they had scored in a game since 1990.