The Christmas Day basketball schedule can be likened to a restaurant menu, and the Cleveland Cavaliers-Golden State Warriors NBA Finals rematch was the main course. But that doesn’t devalue the menu’s other offerings, which included a fun-to-watch Spurs-Bulls evening matchup.
San Antonio built a 26-8 first quarter lead and barely looked back until Chicago tied the game in the third quarter. But like any Gregg Popovich-coached team, the Spurs got back to basics and dimed themselves out of a late-game Bulls comeback attempt.
The Spurs dished out 30 assists and built another double-digit lead in the fourth quarter, keeping Chicago at bay for a 119-100 home victory to notch their 25th win of the season. LaMarcus Aldridge made his first 11 field goal attempts and finished 15-for-20 from the field for 33 points and nine rebounds.
“I was just catching and shooting,” Aldridge said on the TV broadcast after the game. “Coach was telling me to try to find my shot more.”
Kawhi Leonard stuffed the stat sheets for a holiday double-double — 25 points (7-for-14 shooting), 10 rebounds, and three steals — and Pau Gasol finished with 12 points and seven rebounds against his former Chicago squad.
The Bulls couldn’t get much going. Robin Lopez played only 19 minutes but the Bulls were outscored by 26 with him on the floor. Jimmy Butler scored 19 points on 19 shot attempts, and Dwyane Wade was the only bright spot, leading Chicago with 24 points and six assists.
Player of the game: LaMarcus Aldridge
Any time your co-star nails his first 11 shots from the field, the team is going to be in a good place. Aldridge scored San Antonio’s first eight points and powered his Spurs to an early big lead over Chicago. They say the mid-range game is a lost art, but clearly LMA put out an APB and located it for Christmas.
Play of the game: Nikola Mirotic thought he was playing NBA 2K17
The Spurs won, but they didn’t get all the highlights. Mirotic racked up three steals, including one that led to a disrespectful transition three-pointer from way behind the arc. He finished with just 11 points off the bench, but his three made three-pointers certainly earned him a few nods for the Three-Point Shootout during NBA All-Star weekend.
Something you missed: Pop has Dewayne Dedmon doing things like this
The Spurs signed Dewayne Dedmon to a two-year, $6 million contract. How do they keep finding these guys? pic.twitter.com/cONHIHsDYE— SB Nation NBA (@SBNationNBA) December 25, 2016
Dedmon has bounced around the league for quite a bit. But just like the Warriors have JaVale McGee performing at optimal levels, the Spurs have stumbled on quite a diamond.
San Antonio signed Dedmon to a two-year deal, and in the blink of an eye, they’ve got the raw athletic big man rolling hard and catching lobs like he did against Chicago. R.C. Buford and Popovich have done it again, folks.
Also: Rajon Rondo disappeared, but he did it in style
Rondo scored just six points on 3-for-7 shooting and two assists in 30 minutes on the floor. But one of Rondo’s field goals came by way of a beautiful running hook over Aldridge’s outstretched arm.