The San Antonio Spurs couldn't miss from downtown in the first half of Thursday's 154-147 double-OT win over the Oklahoma City Thunder. "He anchors us on both ends of the floor. Obviously, he had a great night".
Aldridge wasn't the only one who thrived. After the Spurs essentially abandoned the 3-pointer after their hot start, White drained a 3 to put San Antonio up 129-126.
And that, along with the Spurs' ridiculous 3-point shooting and a massive block by White down the stretch, is what it took against a game opponent in a contest with zero margin for error. In total, they hit 16-of-19 for a blistering 84.2 percent conversion rate.
The Spurs scored a season-high 70 points in the first half behind ideal 10-of-10 shooting from long distance - riding Aldridge and Marco Belinelli to a 70-63 advantage at the break. Their hot 3-point shooting came largely courtesy of the bench, with Marco Belinelli hitting 5-of-5 en route to 19 points while Davis Bertans scored all 12 of his points on 4-of-4 shooting from distance.
But even with all that, this was still the Aldridge show.
Aldridge inflicted his damage on the Thunder without ever shooting a 3-pointer. In fact, Aldridge became the first player to pour in at least 56 points without shooting a 3 since Shaquille O'Neal accomplished the feat in 2000 when he scored 61 points on the LA Clippers.
Derrick White and Jerami Grant each chipped in with career-highs in points, while Russell Westbrook set a career-high in assists with a triple-double with 24 points, 13 rebounds, and 24 assists.
Yet, the Thunder threw just enough double teams at Aldridge, and Westbrook saw just enough open shooters-like when he found Terrance Ferguson behind the line and across the court with less than a minute left to tie the game at 126-to keep the Spurs working.
"For him to just be a real professional and find ways, that's what he's been doing since then, just finding other ways", Mills said of Aldridge. "One of the easiest ways is just to sit at the front of the rim and ask for the ball". But he goes and bangs. When he gets in that mindset of give me the I wish I could swear. There was a questionable technical foul called on Paul George and another call that negated a potential four-point play for Oklahoma City, but the final difference maker was Aldridge. He shot 7-of-10 from long range for a season-high 21 points and had a hand in DeMar DeRozan's 7-of-22 shooting effort. We try to play inside-out, and it worked tonight.
"I was just complaining about (not scoring 50 points) like two weeks ago", Aldridge said.
He went 16-for-16 from the line and helped the Spurs ice the game when it was finally time to end the night.
Aldridge has always been a consistent scorer during his National Basketball Association career. "I felt good. I was just going". They were looking for me.
In his first career 50-point game, he finished with 56. "I definitely want to have that ball to add to the collection".
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