The San Antonio Spurs, using the three-pointer like a sniper rifle, made 16 such baskets on only 19 tries, an 84.2 percent clip. They shot 56.6 percent from the field overall. Made 56 field goals in the game. Scored 130 points in regulation. Even shot 89.7 percent from the free throw line. And LaMarcus Aldridge scored 56 (!) points on 20-of-33 shooting without even so much as attempting a three like he was latter-day Wilt Chamberlain.
And yet somehow the Oklahoma City Thunder forced them to play 10 extra minutes of basketball before finally falling against the overwhelming assault of a determined enemy, 154-147 in the double-overtime Game of the Year for the NBA regular season.
Like a Fight of the Year in boxing, this was just a good old-fashioned Texas donnybrook, two teams slugging away at each other until one team just couldn’t stand anymore.
Oklahoma City had 114 field goal attempts to the Spurs’ 99 in this one, making 58 shots themselves (50.9 percent). They dominated the offensive rebound battle (14-5), committed fewer turnovers (13 vs. 17), and…well, that’s it, really.
The Thunder were powerless to get a man into the passing lane; the Spurs had 38 assists. They couldn’t close out on shooters (see that 16-of-19 the Spurs put up, including making 14 in a row to start the game.)
And, in one of those old-school conventional wisdom “when it was tied after 48 and 53 minutes” sorts of situations, the Thunder didn’t “make your free throws”; they were 16-of-24 against 26-of-29 from the other guys. Ten more makes on five fewer attempts equals a winning edge.
The Spurs’ bench standouts, Marco Belinelli (5-of-5), Davis Bertans (4-of-4), and Patty Mills (3-of-4) paced the three-point attack, and the three reserves who took a shot (!) combined to shoot 71.4 percent (15-of-21) overall and score 45 bench points, all three notching double-figure scoring games in the bizarre Total Team Effort that is all but inevitable if a squad scores 154.
301 combined points. Wow.
And LaMarcus Aldridge? Of course he’s the man of the match.
LaMarcus Aldridge's career night lifts the @spurs over the Thunder in a 2OT thriller! 😱
— NBA TV (@NBATV) January 11, 2019
Turnabout Is Fair SEGABABA
The Celtics caught the Pacers on a back-to-back and ritually slaughtered them Wednesday.
Thursday, the Celtics went to Miami and the killers became the killed, losing 114-99.
Boston shot just 40.4 percent from the field, and the bench was a horror show (9-of-28 from the field, 1-of-6 from long range.) And nobody on the Celtics had more than six rebounds.
Meanwhile, the Heat had four guys with at least seven boards and won the battle overall 51-37. They turned it over just eight times. And they moved the ball well—33 assists on 46 makes.
Justise Winslow had 11 of those assists to go with 13 points and seven rebounds, Hassan Whiteside had nine points and 10 boards, and Dwyane Wade led all Miami scorers with 19 off the bench in 23 minutes.
Miami also canned 18 three-pointers in this game on 39 tries, setting a season high.
One last dance for D-Wade occasionally throws off some great highlights:
— NBA (@NBA) January 11, 2019
A Mile High Up the Standings
Denver just keeps winning, going to 28-12 overall and 17-3 at home in impressive fashion with a 121-100 pasting of the Clippers.
Nikola Jokic had a triple-double (18 points, 14 rebounds, 10 assists), Jamal Murray had 23 points on 10-of-16 shooting, Torrey Craig had 14 points and a game-high plus-25, Denver shot 50.5 percent from the field overall, and the Nuggets owned the boards (53-38 overall, 15-8 on the offensive glass) in the big win.
Throw in a plug-awful 6-of-24 from three for the Clippers as a team and the result of this one was never in doubt.
Jokic is, of course, your man of the match:
18 PTS. 14 REB. 10 AST
— NBA (@NBA) January 11, 2019
Sacramento’s Power Balance
Once upon a time, the Kings had the naming rights on their arena held by a company called “Power Balance”. This has been your Rainier Wolfcastle moment for those of you sitting in the back.
Anyway, the Kings rode a Total Team Effort in which only one player (Buddy Hield, with 18) had more than 14 points but ten players scored at least six points to a 112-102 win over the Pistons at what is now a whole new building with a new sponsor, Golden1 Arena.
Willie Cauley-Stein added 14 rebounds to his 14 points, De’Aaron Fox had 12 points on 5-of-8 and joined three other players with a game-high plus-17, and the defense held Detroit to just 28.9 percent (11-of-38) from three-point land.
If the Pistons hadn’t shot 21-of-24 from the line, this might’ve been a blowout.
How not to fastbreak, starring the Namesake:
Pistons 3 on 1 fastbreak but that 1 is De’Aaron Fox. Let’s see what happens.
— Ballislife.com (@Ballislife) January 11, 2019
A Total Team Effort deserves total team highlights:
The squad returns home and handles business vs Detroit ⤵️ pic.twitter.com/a4GChCcePx
— Sacramento Kings (@SacramentoKings) January 11, 2019
Short Friday mornings are fun, aren’t they? Minor Illness Week here at the studio (head cold that somehow managed to knock me square on my backside) led to one of those “not productive, not today” moments yesterday, but really, schedule slip and Is He Any Good go together like peanut butter and chocolate…
Anyway, feature later. Breakfast now. Thanks for reading!