Published: Sun, January 13, 2019
Sports | By Juana Wells

Behind LaMarcus Aldridge’s career-best 56, Spurs outlast Thunder in 2OT

Behind LaMarcus Aldridge’s career-best 56, Spurs outlast Thunder in 2OT

San Antonio Spurs guard DeMar DeRozan finds a way around Oklahoma City Thunder centre Steven Adams. The arduous win for San Antonio also meant that Gregg Popovich would pass Jerry Sloan for third All-Time in National Basketball Association head coaching wins.

And that says nothing about the sheer drama we were treated to along the way. "It was fun to watch". Belinelli and Davis Bertans combined to go 9-for-9 from 3-point range to lead a Spurs team that came into the contest averaging the fewest attempts per game from range, while connecting on the highest percentage. Casual fans wrote this team off because of the massive shift in the locker room and loss of an MVP-caliber superstar in Kawhi Leonard, but the two undeniable leaders of San Antonio's lineup have proved themselves worthy of an All-Star nod. The Spurs went 16 for 19 from 3-point range on Thursday, but 10 for 31 on Saturday.

"He's been a beast all year long", San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of Aldridge. Last year, he bricked his way to 29.3 percent from deep on 1.2 attempts. "He's been fantastic, and obviously he had a great night". That included 20 of 33 shooting from the field and a ideal 16 of 16 from the free-throw line.

But in the two seasons since - still with the Spurs - Aldridge has put together a couple of the finest campaigns from a veteran big man in recent memory. "That I feel like it should have happened in my career".

The Spurs have won six of seven and 14 of 18 to close within a game of the Thunder for third place in the Western Conference. These teams meet again Saturday in Oklahoma City. George scored 30 points, and Grant added 25 points and 12 rebounds but fouled out with 25 seconds remaining in the second overtime. It was Westbrook's second career 20-10-20 game, putting him behind only Magic Johnson and Oscar Robertson (both with three) in that category, according to ESPN.

"I'm sure I said it, but not with my mouth", Aldridge said. "They doubled me in every way". Aldridge is posting an average stat line of 20.7 points per game on 50.9 percent shooting while grabbing 8.6 rebounds and blocking 1.2 shots each outing.

The Spurs' big man shot 20-for-33 from the field and a flawless 16-for-16 from the free throw line to become the ninth player to break the 50-point threshold this season, along with Golden State Warriors trio Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant and Klay Thompson.

The Other Guys. Marco Belinelli led the Spurs with 24 points off the bench.

With the Spurs up 130-128, Belinelli had the ball stolen at midcourt, leading to a tying layup by Grant with 5.6 seconds left.

If only one member of the dynamic duo ends up reaching the All Star game, it would more likely be DeMar DeRozan because of the strong narrative surrounding his season.

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