Posted on March 30, 2018, by Travis Pulver
A recent six-game winning streak gave fans of the San Antonio Spurs hope that the team may still reach the 50-win mark for the season. But when LaMarcus Aldridge limped off the court the other night against the Wizards they knew the streak would likely end soon. Maybe even as soon as Thursday night when the Oklahoma City Thunder came to town.
Things had been hard enough without Kawhi Leonard but if you take away Aldridge as well— it would be tough to keep hope alive. But then an unexpected happened.
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“I felt decent this morning and I was like, ‘I’m going to try,’ ” Aldridge said (via San Antonio Express-News). “If I feel bad, I will come out of the game.”
Patty Mills summed up the impact Aldridge has in one word: “Massive.”
“He carries us,” Mills said. “To come out with what he’s got or whatever and have a game like that and lead with his actions – if he can do that, it’s no excuses.”
Aldridge went on to turn in a double-double on the night with 25 points and 11 rebounds to lead the Spurs to a 103-99 win over the Thunder. The victory improved their record to 44-32, the same as the Thunder.
He definitely appeared to be a man on a mission. Most of his contribution came in the first half when he hit eight of 11 shot attempts for 19 points. He only had six in the second half. His only basket from the floor came with 52.9 seconds and extended the Spurs lead back out to three, 99-96.
While his scoring prowess led the way, it was the team’s defense combined with some questionable shot selections by Russell Westbrook down the stretch that secured the win for San Antonio. Westbrook threw up a pair of terrible air balls from three-point range in the final moments of the game and had a costly turnover.
A win could have put the Thunder in the driver’s seat for the No. 4 seed in the West and home-court advantage in the first round. But with the head-to-head record being 2-2 between the Spurs and Thunder, the division record breaks the tie. San Antonio is 8-6; Oklahoma City is 5-10.
Of course, with only six games left and a 1.5 game margin separating the No. 4 seed from the No. 8 seed, anything can happen. The Los Angeles Clippers and Denver Nuggets still can’t be counted out either. They are just one (Clippers) and two games (Nuggets) behind the Utah Jazz (who is currently the No. 8 seed).
While it feels good to record a big win, the good times and hopes for a 50-win season may very well come to an end the next time San Antonio takes the court. They face the Houston Rockets Sunday afternoon.
The Thunder will try to get back on the right side of the scoreboard Saturday against the Nuggets.
One of the big takeaways from the game for Spurs fans is the fact that Aldridge even played. The team has been without Leonard for the majority of the season due to a painful injury. But here they had a guy who just suffered one and he didn’t take even a single night off.
He dealt with the pain and played. But why? Why not look out for himself and sit out?
“Just trying to keep guys motivated and into it,” Aldridge said (via San Antonio Express-News). “We’ve already been offensively challenged this year, so when I’m not in the game it makes it even harder on us.”