San Antonio Spurs outlast Oklahoma City Thunder in Aldridge’s career night
By Ethan Farina
The San Antonio Spurs outlasted the Oklahoma City Thunder in a double-overtime thriller in the Alamo City on Thursday night.
This Thursday night showdown between the San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder promised to be good but who knew it was going to be double-overtime, new career highs all around, down to the wire good. Wow, what a game.
From start to finish this one was as entertaining as they come. LaMarcus Aldridge set a new career-high in points with 56, Derrick White posted a new high with 23, the Thunder’s Jerami Grant did the same with 25, and Russell Westbrook dished out a career-high 24 assists. Head coach Gregg Popovich also notched his 1,222nd career win, moving him into third place all-time among NBA head coaches.
Right from the get-go this matchup between the Spurs and Thunder thrilling. San Antonio caught fire from deep early on. They wouldn’t miss their first three-pointer until there were just over five minutes left…in the third quarter! Marco Belinelli, Bryn Forbes, Davis Bertans; everyone was getting in on the action.
Belinelli would go on a 9-0 run all by himself in the first quarter that almost blew the roof off of the AT&T Center. San Antonio is second to last in the league in three-pointers attempted but first in three-point percentage. Quality over quantity, folks.
The Spurs were getting quality looks all around in this one. The shooting percentages were absolutely absurd. They shot 84% from deep, 56% from the floor and almost 90% from the line. Classic Spursian ball movement was on display as San Antonio routinely passed up good looks for great ones, found the open shooter and made Oklahoma City pay.
However, the Thunder would crawl their way back. A brief spat of poor shot selection and turnovers in the third quarter would help Oklahoma City close the gap. Russell Westbrook’s shot was a bit off but he more than made up for it with his incredible playmaking. Paul George was his usual All-Star self. It was really the contributions of Terrance Ferguson (7-10 from deep) and Jerami Grant that pulled the Thunder back.
⭐️ VOTE @aldridge_12: https://t.co/w8uWNcwX21 ⭐️ pic.twitter.com/nDD5NJ3F0B
— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 11, 2019
When things got really tight the Spurs turned to their All-Star workhorse, LaMarcus Aldridge. Aldridge was an absolute wagon tonight. From the middle of the third quarter on the San Antonio gameplan was simple: Dump it into LaMarcus, let him bully whoever is guarding him, fade over the right shoulder if it’s there or kick it out to the perimeter if it’s not. Wash, rinse, repeat, repeat, repeat. When Steven Adams had to exit the game with a few minutes left in the 4th quarter Aldridge really started feasting. Jerami Grant and Patrick Patterson simply had no chance of containing the scorching hot Texas native.
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The end of this one was a real nail biter. It looked like it might be over when Derrick White hit a clutch three with 21 seconds left. But after a Westbrook to Grant alley-oop tied the game up with 5 seconds left the two teams headed to overtime.
Overtime was more of the same for San Antonio, ten more minutes of the LaMarcus Aldridge show. Patty Mills, White, and DeMar DeRozan would chip in as well but San Antonio was going to ride the horse that brought them there and continued to feed the big man.
Hands on his knees, clearly exhausted, Aldridge would hit fadeaways, floaters, free throws, whatever it took to get San Antonio the win. He was truly a man on a mission tonight. He more than deserved to walk away with the game ball after posting the first 50+ point game of his career.
After a disappointing loss to the Memphis Grizzlies on Wednesday night it sure felt good to walk away with the win in this tightly contested matchup. Minus the Memphis game, San Antonio has been playing outstanding basketball.
The Spurs will try to keep the momentum rolling as they travel to Oklahoma City for the second matchup of this back-to-back series with the Thunder on Saturday night.