Gulf Today

Wembanyama, Brunson star in Spurs’ win over Knicks


LOS ANGELES: Sensationa­l San Antonio rookie Victor Wembanyama scored 40 points and grabbed 20 rebounds to help the Spurs withstand a stunning 61-point performanc­e from New York’s Jalen Brunson in a 130-126 NBA overtime victory over the Knicks on Friday.

French star Wembanyama became the first rookie to record a 40-point, 20-rebound game since Shaquille O’neal had 46 and 21 in 1993.

The 20-year-old added seven assists, two steals and a blocked shot as he and the Spurs spoiled a career night for Brunson -- who finished one point shy of the Knicks’ franchise record of 62 points in a game, set by Carmelo Anthony in 2014.

The scintillat­ing show in San Antonio overshadow­ed Minnesota’s 111-98 victory over the reigning champion Denver Nuggets that vaulted the Timberwolv­es into a tie for the Western Conference lead, alongside the Oklahoma City Thunder — which beat the Phoenix Suns 128-103.

The Nuggets dropped from first to third, one half-game behind the Timberwolv­es and Thunder.

Brunson notched the fith-highest points total of this high-scoring season, but he missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer with 5.4 seconds let in overtime.

Wembanyama’s three-pointer with 1:12 let in overtime had put the Spurs up 128-124.

Ater Spurs guard Tre Jones made two freethrows with 1.1 seconds let, Wembanyama came up with a steal and it was over.

The Spurs, who won a third-straight game for the first time this season, scored 74 points in the first half and led most of the night.

But the Knicks, fueled by Brunson’s 38 secondhalf points, grabbed the lead for the first time when Donte Divincenzo’s three-pointer made it 113-112 with 4:39 let in regulation.

Ater a Wembanyama alley-oop dunk tied it at 119-119, Brunson drove for a basket that put the Knicks up 121-119 with 1:14 let in regulation, but Wembanyama made two free throws to force overtime.

“He’s prety special,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said of Wembanyama, adding that the Spurs’ ability to withstand an “amazing” Brunson and the Knicks’ late charge showed how much they have developed this year.

“All teams lose leads,” Popovich said. “But how you come back from it is important and earlier in the year we would not have sustained our own execution, our own pace. You can see the maturity that they’ve developed during the season.

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