Red-hot Spurs

LaMarcus Aldridge
ALDRIDGE: Career-high 56 points.

LOS ANGELES (AFP) - LaMarcus Aldridge tallied a career-high 56 points as the San Antonio Spurs overcame Russell Westbrook’s triple double by outgunning the Oklahoma City Thunder 154-147 in a double overtime thriller on Thursday.

Aldridge’s epic performance saw him surpass his previous career high of 45 points which he set against Utah last March.

He rattled off seven points in the second overtime as the Spurs outlasted the Thunder one day after having one of their worst shooting performances of the season in a 96-86 loss to Memphis.

“I was trying to be dominant,” Aldridge said. “I got going early in third and it felt good. I was trying to get to the rim.

“We had to stay calm and get it done down the stretch, and we did.”

Westbrook also delivered a monster game for the Thunder, finishing with 24 points, 24 rebounds and 13 assists.

The Spurs have won six of seven and 14 of 18 to close within a game of the Thunder for third place in the Western Conference.

This was their first meeting of the season and Oklahoma City will get a chance for revenge on Saturday when they host the Spurs.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich recorded his 1,222 win, surpassing Jerry Sloan to move to third place on the all-time list.

Paul George finished with 30 points and Jerami Grant had 25 points and 12 rebounds for the Thunder, who lost their seventh consecutive game in San Antonio.

DeMar DeRozan scored 16 points and 11 assists but shot just seven of 22 from the floor and missed potential game-deciding shots at the end of regulation and the end of the first overtime.

San Antonio made its first 14 three-pointers to set a franchise record. After their initial success from beyond the arc, the Spurs switched gears and got the ball down low to Aldridge with the game on the line.

“We try to play inside out and it worked tonight,” Aldridge said.

Elsewhere, Dwyane Wade came off the bench to score 19 points and Justise Winslow had 13 points and a career-high 11 assists as the Miami Heat hammered the Boston Celtics 115-99.

The Heat, who led by as many as 26 points, used a balanced attack to beat the Celtics as a half dozen players scored in double figures in front of a crowd of 19,600 — their 400th straight sellout at Miami’s American Airlines Arena.
Minus a bona fide superstar, the Heat are getting consistent performances from a cast of hardworking youngsters and crafty veterans like Wade, who has been demoted to bench duty in his final NBA season.

“We had a comfortable lead, but you know they are going to make a run,” the 36-year-old Wade said. “I got a couple of shots to fall.”

Wade turned back the clock against the Celtics on Thursday, shooting eight-of-12 from the floor and three-of-five from the beyond the arc. The Heat drained a season-high 18 threes.

“We are starting to figure out how to win against good teams on our home floor,” Wade said.

Josh Richardson tallied 18 points and Derrick Jones scored 14 for the Heat, who ended a two-game skid and improved to 20-20 on the season.

Point guard Kyrie Irving scored a team-high 22 points and Marcus Smart had 18 for the Celtics, who had their four-game win streak snapped.

Heat guard Dion Waiters, who returned earlier this month from ankle surgery which caused him to miss 32 games, finished with eight points.

In Denver, Nikola Jokic finished with 18 points, 14 rebounds and 10 assists for his 21st career triple-double to help the Western Conference-leading Denver Nuggets stretch their home winning streak to 11 by routing the Los Angeles Clippers 121-100.

Jamal Murray scored 23 points and Mason Plumlee added a season-high 17 points to go with 12 rebounds for the Nuggets. They’re now 17-3 at home.

Lou Williams led the Clippers with 19 points, and Danilo Gallinari tallied 18 against his former team.