LaMarcus Aldridge Scores 56 as the Spurs and the Thunder Fill Up the Scorebook
Two top N.B.A. teams battling into double overtime. Memorable individual performances. And points, points, points. 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.
LaMarcus Aldridge had his best night. Although he has averaged 20 points or more regularly, and frequently winds up in the 30s and 40s, Aldridge had never scored 50 points in an N.B.A. game until 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 he the two overtimes gave him the extra minutes he needed to 56, a new career high.
He tallied the 56 with six layups, three dunks, 11 midrange 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 N.B.A. (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 score 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 George Gervin scored 63 in 1978, and the most against the Thunder franchise since Tom Chambers of the Suns poured in 60 against the team — then still the Seattle SuperSonics — in 1990.
It wasn’t just the field goals. 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 defense, 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 shots in a game in 2008.
The other Spurs couldn’t miss from 3. 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.
The Thunder challenged some records of their own. Russell Westbrook had 24 assists in the loss, the second-highest total of the 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 N.B.A. since 1960, and only one other time this century, in 2016 — by Westbrook.
The scoreboard took a pounding. 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.
Both teams will enjoy a day off Friday, then suit up again on Saturday … in a rematch in Oklahoma City. Based on Thursday’s performances, that suddenly has become one of the most anticipated regular-season games in years.