In a season already filled with high-scoring classics, Thursday's battle royal in San Antonio between the Spurs and the Thunder might have been the best of all.
- LaMarcus Aldridge set a career-high with 56 points, the highest individual total for a Spurs player since Tony Parker scored 55 in 2008 and third most in team history (David Robinson holds the record with 71).
- Russell Westbrook had 24 points, a career-high 24 assists and 13 rebounds for the 12th 20-point, 20-assist triple-double in NBA history, and the first with those totals.
- With 301 total points, the two foes combined to tie for the 21st highest-scoring game in league annals.
- Aldridge, Westbrook, Paul George (30), Jerami Grant (25), Terrance Ferguson (21) and Derrick White (23) all scored 20 points or more, and Steven Adams and Marco Belinelli just missed with 19 apiece.
- The Spurs became the first team to reach 150 points since the Suns in 2010.
- The Spurs hit their first 14 3-point shots -- complete records are not available, but believed to be the hottest start in at least 20 seasons -- and 16 of 19 overall.
- Last but not least, Spurs coach Gregg Popovich surpassed Jerry Sloan for third on the career list with his 1,222nd victory.
With tonight's victory, Coach Popovich has moved into third place for all-time wins in NBA history. pic.twitter.com/SI6Dq51ZIi— San Antonio Spurs (@spurs) January 11, 2019
And that says nothing about the sheer drama we were treated to along the way.
As you would imagine for a game featuring 114 field goals, there were any number of twists and turns as the Thunder battled back from 16 down in the second quarter, and seven with 3 minutes, 14 seconds left in regulation.
That set up a wild "finish" in which Grant's layup off a lob from Westbrook tied the game at 130 with 5.6 remaining, and DeMar DeRozan -- one of the few players who didn't quite rise to the occasion -- missed from midrange at the buzzer.
The extra sessions belonged to Aldridge, who followed James Harden, LeBron James, Stephen Curry, Kevin Durant, Klay Thompson, Blake Griffin, Kemba Walker and Derrick Rose to become the ninth player to score 50 or more this season. While the Thunder gradually sputtered, the Spurs just kept pumping the ball to Aldridge inside, and the 13-year veteran kept delivering.
He finished with 13 of the Spurs' 24 points over the final 10 minutes, frequently feasting on the undersized Grant as Thunder center Steven Adams struggled with a sprained ankle.
Aldridge was hyper efficient along the way, hitting 20-of-33 shots and all 16 free throws for the NBA's highest point total without a single 3-point attempt since Shaquille O'Neal went off for 61 in 2000.
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.
"I was just trying to be dominant," said Aldridge, clutching the game ball. "I felt good, and I was just going. Just trying to get to the rim. I had a good rhythm. We try to play inside-out, and it worked tonight. That's a good team over there, and we had to stay calm ... and we did it."
Big on little crime
Kyrie Irving can do so many things on the basketball court. With full credit for the effort, contesting the rim is not one of them.
This, Uncle Drew, is how it's done, courtesy of your hard-nosed teammate, Marcus Smart.
Enjoy the latest highlight-reel dime from one of the best passing big men to ever play this game en route to his fifth triple-double of the season.
Jokic finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists in the Nuggets' 121-100 victory over the Clippers.