Almost every single night in today’s NBA, a star player is doing something so utterly ridiculous to the box score that it now feels normal. No longer is it a surprising if anyone drops 50 points in a game. What San Antonio Spurs power forward LaMarcus Aldridge just did, however, completely breaks any sort of theory about the game as we know it.
Save the annoying “NBA plays no defense” rant for never again. The clinic the 6-foot-11 big man put on against the Oklahoma City Thunder at the A&T Center proves it simply doesn’t matter. These guys are just that good.
With smooth mid-range jumpers and old-school post moves, Aldridge crafted the greatest game of his career with 56 points on 20-for-33 shooting in an 154-147 double-overtime victory over the Thunder. He also added nine rebounds, four assists and four blocks for good measure, or maybe because he just felt like doing more.
On a night when he had to battle the size of Thunder center Steven Adams, who had 19 points and seven rebounds of his own, the 33-year-old LA showed his full repertoire of moves to set a new career-high in points and help the Spurs score the most points ever under legendary head coach Gregg Popovich.
In such a high scoring game, this was one of those games everyone balls out. Six other Spurs (Derrick White, Marco Belinelli, DeMar DeRozan, Bryn Forbes, Patty Mills and Davis Bertans) scored in double figures, while the Thunder totaled six players with 14 or more points.
NBA All-Star forward Paul George poured in 30, Jerami Grant added a career-high 24, Terrance Ferguson chipped in 21, and former NBA MVP point guard Russell Westbrook stuffed the stat sheet with an insane triple-double line of 24 points, 13 rebounds, and a career-high 24 assists.
However, nobody was as good as Aldridge, the former Texas Longhorns star and No. 2 overall pick in the 2006 NBA Draft by the Chicago Bulls, on this January night because it completely defied what the NBA has suddenly become.
During the 2018-19 season, a player has scored at least 50 points on 10 different occasions. The list is full of superstars, and only Houston Rockets guard James Harden has done it twice.
But what made Aldridge’s night so special is he became the first player this season to join the 50-point club without making a 3-point field goal. In fact, he was so efficient in the post, he didn’t even take a single shot from behind the arc, but went 16-for-16 from the free throw line.
So with Harden (54, 50), Charlotte Hornets guard Kemba Walker (60), the Golden State Warriors trio of Klay Thompson (52), Kevin Durant (51), Stephen Curry (51), Los Angeles Lakers forward LeBron James (51), Detroit Pistons forward Blake Griffin (50) and Minnesota Timberwolves guard Derrick Rose (50) all scoring buckets at a high clip, it’s Aldridge who showcased it the best. Not to mention, he had a great night on both ends of the floor against OKC.
According to ESPN’s efficiency rating, which takes the efficiency of a player’s expected output, only Aldridge eclipsed the plus-50 mark. That’s not too shabby for the six-time NBA All-Star, who was coming off a tough shooting night in a loss at the Memphis Grizzlies the night before.
It will be tough for Aldridge, a Dallas, Texas native and two-time All-NBA Second Team selection, to duplicate that output anytime soon, but it was definitely amazing to watch a 56-point game on Thursday night.