SAN ANTONIO – LaMarcus Aldridge knew the task at hand. He knew how important Friday’s contest was and he played like it.
Aldridge posted a career-high 45 points as he led the San Antonio Spurs to a 124-120 overtime victory over the Utah Jazz (41-32) at the AT&T Center.
The victory closes out a six-game homestand for the Silver and Black, which saw them go a perfect 6-0. The win combined with the Portland TrailBlazers loss now moves San Antonio a game and a half behind the third-seeded Blazers and a half-game behind the fourth-seed Oklahoma City Thunder.
Here is what went good and bad for the Spurs, as well as three standout players: Aldridge, Rudy Gay, and Patty Mills.
- LaMarcus Aldridge continues to be a ‘LaMonster’ on the offensive end. More on that in a moment.
- San Antonio knew the stakes coming into the night and played like they needed to from the opening tip. The Spurs raced out to a 19-8 lead, causing Utah to call two consecutive timeouts in the first quarter.
- Manu Ginobili rebounded from a poor offensive performance. He finished with 18 points on 50 percent shooting, including four big points in the fourth quarter to put San Antonio up seven points in the final five minutes.
- Patty Mills turned into Patty Thrills.
- Rudy Gay became the ‘super sub’ fans and Spurs coaches were hoping he’d be when he first signed in San Antonio.
- Pau Gasol and Davis Bertans both had poor nights on the offensive side of the basketball. The pair combined for seven points on 2-for-8 shooting and three turnovers.
- Tony Parker went scoreless on the night, going 0-for-2 from the floor. However, his veteran experience came in the clutch late down the stretch in the fourth quarter.
- Kyle Anderson may be having the best season of his career but he did struggle in the final moments of the fourth quarter. He committed two key turnovers, angering Pop. The turnovers saw Utah take a slim one-point lead with just over three minutes to play in regulation.
- Dejounte Murray may be the starting point guard but he still has plenty of growth to do. With San Antonio up three points with 11.7 seconds left, Utah had possession. Murray would foul Joe Ingles as he went attempted what he thought was a three-point shot. Instead, Ingles’ foot was on the line and he would only be given two free throw attempts. Lucky for Murray and the Spurs because who knows if Aldridge had the energy for another possible overtime.
Three Standout Players:
LaMarcus Aldridge: San Antonio went from 10th place in the Western Conference to currently six and within range of the third seed. LaMarcus Aldridge is THE reason for the Spurs’ recent run and success as of late.
He proved it on Friday as he posted a career-high 45 points to go along with nine rebounds and two assists. Aldridge was aggressive early and often as he scored from the post, elbow, and banged down low against Jazz big men Derrick Favors and Defensive Player of the Year favorite Rudy Gobert.
Aldridge scored 28 of his 45 points in the first half, including 17 in the first quarter. He scored the most points by a Spur since Tony Parker’s 55 points against the Minnesota Timberwolves back in 2008.
There is no question that this version of Aldridge is what Pop and Spurs fans both thoughts they’d get when he first arrived in San Antonio three years ago. And what a time for LMA to take the leadership reigns, it will more than likely lead to the Spurs’ playoff berth and possibly a top-four seed.
Patty Mills: Patty Mills has felt the wrath of Spurs Nation over his poor play on the offensive side of the basketball all season but Friday night showed exactly why the Spurs signed him to a contract extension over the summer.
Mills finished with 23 points, just three shy of his season high. He went 2-for-5 from 3-point range and shot 67 percent from the field. His biggest contributions came in the overtime period as he scored six points as San Antonio struggled to score. Mills’ performance stood out for his offense but it still deserves to take a look at his defense. He helped hold Joe Ingles to 13 points on 4-of-9 shooting.
Rudy Gay: After turning the clock back to his days as a Memphis Grizzly, Rudy Gay helped out the Silver and Black in his best performance in a Spurs uniform.
Rudy finished with 15 points off the bench on 46 percent shooting. With Aldridge getting a rest to start the fourth quarter, Gay took over. He slammed the ball over the outstretched arms of Gobert, hit jumpers, and remained aggressive as he asserted himself into the paint. There’s no question if he can keep up this level of play, the Spurs can easily finish in the top four of the West.
The Spurs are now 43-30 on the season and will return to the court on Sunday afternoon when they travel to Wisconsin to face Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks (38-34) at 2:30 p.m. CST at the BMO Harris Bradley Center.