The San Antonio Spurs entered the night having lost three of their last four games, a span in which All-Star centre LaMarcus Aldridge was averaging just 12.3 points per game on 39.1% shooting from the field.
When the Oklahoma City Thunder visited the AT&T Center Thursday night, it was a much different story. San Antonio snapped a two-game losing streak with a 121-112 win over Oklahoma City behind the play of Aldridge, who delivered his best performance of the young season.
Heading into the year, NBA.com tabbed the 34-year-old as the No. 5 centre in the NBA, and the five-time All-Star showed exactly why in the win.
In 34 minutes of action, Aldridge erupted for a season-high 39 points while shooting 19-for-23 (82.6%) from the field; the big man also grabbed six rebounds and dished out four assists for the second consecutive game.
Year after year, the Spurs are counted out as falling off a step and expected to finally miss the postseason. The team again enters the year with two impressive streaks on the line:
●San Antonio last failed to make the postseason in 1997
●1997 was also the last season the Spurs did not have a representative in the All-Star Game
It's a new year and the same narrative for San Antonio, which looks to find its place in a crowded and talented Western Conference playoff picture. With Thursday night's win, the Spurs advance to 5-3 on the season and Aldridge increased his scoring average to 19.0 points through eight games in addition to 6.6 rebounds and 2.5 assists. Last season, he was the one to keep the Spurs' All-Star streak alive as he averaged 21.3 points and 9.2 rebounds for a team that came close to winning 50 games.
Can he earn the sixth selection of his career? Performances like these show exactly why the team leans on him the way they do.
In addition to Aldridge, San Antonio is benefitting from the return of point guard Dejounte Murray, who finished with 17 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds in Wednesday's win. Four-time All-Star DeMar DeRozan rounds out the team's big three and flexed his muscles as a playmaker as he dished out nine assists to go with 16 points and six rebounds.
The Spurs continue their three game homestand as they host the Celtics Saturday and close the homestand Tuesday as they host the Grizzlies. OKC falls to 3-5 on the season and returns home to host Golden State and Milwaukee before getting back on the road.