Aldridge has career-high 45 points, Spurs beat Jazz in OT
By RAUL DOMINGUEZ
Aldridge had a career-high 45 points, helping San Antonio overcome Mitchell's 35-point performance in the Spurs' 124-120 overtime victory over Utah on Friday night.
"(Aldridge) was ridiculous and the previous two games, too," San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili said. "He's carrying us. He's just saying, `OK, follow me guys and we'll be OK.' "
After losing three straight to drop out of a playoff spot, the Spurs have won six straight and beat the Jazz for the first time in four meetings this season.
San Antonio remained sixth in the Western Conference with the same record as fifth-place New Orleans, a half-game behind Oklahoma City for fourth. Utah remained eighth in the West.
"It's time to try to put it together on both ends of the floor," Aldridge said. "Feel like everyone's been locked in and trying to take care of business."
Utah's 12-game road winning streak came to an end, but only after Mitchell had 14 points in the fourth quarter, including three 3-pointers in the final two minutes to force overtime.
"He's tough," Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. "Those two 3s he hit were just ridiculous, but he's got courage and he's got the skill (and) he's willing to take those shots."
After free throws by Ginobili and Patty Mills and a dunk by Jazz center Rudy Gobert put San Antonio up 114-111, Mitchell drained his third 3-pointer of the fourth with 3.6 seconds remaining to force overtime.
"Not wanting to lose takes over my mind," Mitchell said of his run. "Just trying to find a way to win. If it means hitting shots, hitting shots and if it means you're getting doubled, pass the ball to Rudy (Gobert) or if it's getting the steals on defense, whatever it may be to win the game."
Mills, who finished with 23 points, had six points in overtime as the Spurs capped an undefeated six-game homestand.
Aldridge averaged 32.2 points and 9.0 rebounds during the winning streak, including two double-doubles.
"He's basically carried us and everybody else him with his talent and everybody else with their heart," Popovich said. "The game goes along, goes along, and then you realize that his heart is as big or bigger than anybody's. He's on the board getting rebounds, putting stuff back blocking shots, doing a little bit of everything that we have to do to win games."
Aldridge scored 28 points in the first half on 12-for-16 shooting, including a 3-pointer.
"First half was ridiculous," Ginobili said of Aldridge. "He scored 28 and we all had one, two and three points. It was like just him playing against a whole team."
Utah missed its first six shots and was 4 for 14 as San Antonio grabbed a 19-8 lead midway through the first quarter. Mitchell settled the Jazz, scoring six points to cut the Spurs lead to 29-21 heading into the second quarter.
"There's no shame in losing this game the way that we played and competed," Jazz coach Quin Snyder said.
Mitchell was 14-for-35 shooting while falling six points shy of his season-high.
Ginobili finished with 18 points for the Spurs.
Jazz: Utah had not lost to San Antonio since April 2, 2017. ... The starting lineup of Mitchell, Rubio, Favors, Gobert and Joe Ingles is 22-10 on the season ... Tony Bradley missed the game as part of the league's concussion protocol. It was unclear if Bradley suffered the concussion during practice or in the G League since he has only played one minute with the Jazz in March.
Spurs: San Antonio played its first overtime game of the season. ... Aldridge's 45-point effort his 44-point effort against Denver on Jan. 23, 2014. ... Aldridge's 28 points in the first half are the most by a Spurs in a half since Ginobili had 28 points against Cleveland in 2008.
Popovich addressed the players' only meeting that took place March 17 following San Antonio's win over Minnesota.
ESPN reported the meeting grew tense as the team's veterans asked Kawhi Leonard when he would return. The Spurs denied the report, stating it was a normal conversation.
"I only talk about the things I know, and I know that (Kawhi) has worked hard to get back," Popovich said. "It's been frustrating. You don't think he wants to come back? You don't think we want him back? But the fact that he's not back, it frustrates everybody."
Jazz: Visit Golden State on Sunday night.
Spurs: Visit Milwaukee on Sunday night.
Updated March 24, 2018