Wembanyama Nets 15 in Debut as Spurs Suffer Loss

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In an impressive debut, Victor Wembanyama put up 15 points for the Spurs, but it wasn’t enough to secure a victory as they suffered a loss.

In his NBA regular-season debut at the Frost Bank Center, Victor Wembanyama delighted fans during pregame warmups by extending his arms for high-fives.

Although he encountered foul trouble, Wembanyama treated the packed arena of 18,947 to an impressive fourth-quarter display, even though the Dallas Mavericks ultimately secured a 126-119 win over his Spurs.

“Lots of emotions for sure,” Wembanyama said following the game, “but it would have been perfect with a win.”

Wembanyama said it was “surreal” to see the number of fans in the building before the opening tip and he did get things going on the right foot.

On the Spurs’ initial defensive possession, Wembanyama showcased his shot-blocking prowess with a rejection against Kyrie Irving of the Dallas Mavericks. However, as the game unfolded, foul trouble plagued Wembanyama throughout the evening.

His second foul was called with just 43.5 seconds remaining in the first quarter, limiting his second-quarter playing time to a mere 5 minutes and 33 seconds. In the third quarter, Wembanyama accumulated two fouls within the first 3 minutes and 23 seconds of the half, leading to his benching for the remainder of the period.

Returning for the fourth quarter, he briefly rejoined the action but was quickly sidelined again, just 26 seconds in, after receiving his fifth foul while attempting to defend a Luka Doncic drive.

Wembanyama made a strong comeback with 7 minutes and 12 seconds left in the game, promptly making an impact by catching a lob from his teammate Devin Vassell. He contributed nine points in the fourth quarter, but despite his efforts, both Irving and Doncic sealed the victory for the Dallas Mavericks with clutch 3-pointers.

“One of the toughest things for a player is to get into foul trouble,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “You never get into a rhythm, you’re in and out of the game and that sort of thing. I thought his maturity showed, even at a young age where he came in with the last seven minutes and just played.

“We ran some stuff for him, he executed where a lot of guys would have been totally out of it by then because, as you said, were in foul trouble and didn’t get the rhythm. I thought he had a wonderful outing considering that.”

Wembanyama logged 23 minutes of play, achieving a stat line of 15 points, five rebounds, two assists, two steals, and one block. He did so efficiently, shooting 6-of-9 from the field, including 3-of-5 from beyond the arc.

Despite contending with foul trouble, Wembanyama maintained a positive outlook as he approached the closing moments of the game.

“It might be frustrating, but always keeping your heads up is good for my teammates,” Wembanyama said. “I can’t show it on the court, and we learn every day.”

Vassell, who led the Spurs with 23 points, said he’s expecting big things from Wembanyama when he steps back on the floor on Friday when San Antonio hosts the Houston Rockets. But he also said this is still a learning experience for the rest of the roster.

“We’re all figuring each other out,” Vassell said. “We’re all figuring out Wemby. He’s figuring us out. We just got to figure out how to play as a team and make sure that the game is easy for him and he doesn’t have to do as much as he has to do on iso situations and just getting him easy lobs, easy looks to get him going.

“He demands so much attention, if they are double teaming him, we have to be able to cut and make certain plays out of that.”

 

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