“We were just trying to play inside-out more,” Aldridge said. “In the first half, we felt we took more jump shots than usual. So I was trying to be on the block, and be more aggressive. I had a guy on me that was smaller. So I was trying to take advantage of it.”
The Spurs started off the game cold, misfiring on 22 of their 27 attempts in the first quarter. The struggles continued in the second quarter as San Antonio shot 10-of-21, yet still managed to head into intermission up 32-20 because of Dallas’ poor shooting (14-of-42) in the opening half.
Spurs coach Gregg Popovich instructed the team at intermission to play more of an inside-out game, and the coaching point paid dividends. Aldridge hit buckets on three consecutive possessions in the third quarter, the last a 12-foot turnaround jumper off an assist from Tony Parker.
“He got hot for a few plays in a row,” said Boris Diaw, who finished second on the team in scoring with 16 points. “So obviously we were looking for him. The ball was finding him pretty naturally actually. We were not forcing anything.”
Added Popovich: “We did feel we had an advantage there.”
Aldridge’s layup off a Tim Duncan assist gave the Spurs a 62-47 lead with 5:36 remaining in the quarter. Popovich also praised the defensive efforts of Aldridge and Diaw, who combined to hold Dirk Nowitzki to four points on 2-of-10 shooting.
“Coach just said play inside-out more,” Aldridge said. “He told me to ask for the ball. I felt like I made those first two, and guys just kept feeding me out there. I was trying to just make plays out there for us.”
The win over the Mavericks extended San Antonio’s winning streak to 11 games, while pushing the regular-season home winning streak, which dates back to last March, to 33 contests. The victory also gave San Antonio its 11th win by 25 points or more, which sets a franchise record for the most 25-point wins in a single season.
Interestingly, 40 games still remain for the Spurs.
As for Aldridge, the power forward joined the Spurs back in July knowing that on any given night a different player could step up and lead the team to victory. Aldridge has produced 13 double-doubles and has been the team’s high scorer in 12 games so far this season.
But he was coming off a performance Thursday night in a win over the Cavaliers in which he scored just six points in 29 minutes.
“It’s just easier,” Aldridge said of San Antonio’s multitude of options. “We have guys that can make plays, guys that can have big nights. Last game, David [West] played great. I was in foul trouble. [Tony Parker] had two or three games where he was killing. Kawhi [Leonard] had the previous five games. I think it just makes it easier for everyone out there.”
Popovich probably agrees.