NBA: Wembanyama's big night trumps Brunson's 61 points in Spurs win over Knicks

AFP , Saturday 30 Mar 2024

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.

San Antonio Spurs
New York Knicks guard Jalen Brunson (11) drives to the basket against San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) during the second half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Friday, March 29, 2024. AP


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 fifth-highest points total of this high-scoring season, but he missed a potential go-ahead three-pointer with 5.4 seconds left in overtime.

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

After Spurs guard Tre Jones made two free-throws with 1.1 seconds left, 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 second-half points, grabbed the lead for the first time when Donte DiVincenzo's three-pointer made it 113-112 with 4:39 left in regulation.

After 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 left in regulation, but Wembanyama made two free throws to force overtime.

"He's pretty 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.

"(They) stayed strong when New York made a heck of a run."

In Denver, Anthony Edwards scored 25 points, Mike Conley added 23 and Rudy Gobert finished with 21 points and 11 rebounds in a convincing victory over the Nuggets.

An alley-oop dunk from Gobert gave Minnesota a 6-5 lead less than three minutes into the contest and they never trailed again.

Nikola Jokic scored 32 points and pulled down 10 rebounds, but he and the Nuggets sorely missed point guard Jamal Murray, who missed a fourth-straight game with a sprained ankle.

Nuggets coach Michael Malone said before the game that he believed Murray would be back "before the playoffs start."

Oklahoma City, fueled by 23 points from Josh Giddey, rolled past Kevin Durant and the Suns despite the absence of All-Star guard Shai Gilgeous-Alexander, who was again sidelined with a right thigh contusion.

Rockets win 11th straight

Elsewhere, Kawhi Leonard and Paul George came through in the clutch for the Los Angeles Clippers, making back-to-back baskets in the final minute to seal a 100-97 victory over the Magic in Orlando.

The Houston Rockets shook off a slow start to push their winning streak to 11 games with a 101-100 victory over the Utah Jazz.

The Brooklyn Nets drilled 25 three-pointers in a 125-108 home victory over the Chicago Bulls, tying the NBA record for treys in a half with 18 after the break.

In Miami, the Heat thrashed the Blazers 142-82 for the most lopsided victory in franchise history.

In Indiana, Pascal Siakam scored 22 points and Tyrese Haliburton added 21 to lead the Pacers to a 109-90 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers.

Siakam added 11 rebounds and Haliburton grabbed eight rebounds and handed out eight assists for the Pacers, who stepped it up defensively after falling 150-145 to the Lakers on Sunday.

Anthony Davis scored 24 points with 15 rebounds and LeBron James added 16 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists, but the Lakers were held to their lowest points total of the season.

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