NBA: Wembanyama, Spurs overcome Knicks, Brunson's 61 points

NBA: Wembanyama, Spurs overcome Knicks, Brunson’s 61 points

/ 03:46 PM March 30, 2024

New York Knicks NBA Jalen Brunson San Antonio Spurs Victor Wembanyama NBA

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 Photo/Eric Gay)

SAN ANTONIO — Victor Wembanyama had a career-high 40 points and added 20 rebounds and seven assists, and the San Antonio Spurs overcame Jalen Brunson’s career-best 61 points to beat the New York Knicks 130-126 in overtime in the NBA on Friday night.

Wembanyama made a 3-pointer to give San Antonio a four-point lead in OT. He had the first 40-point, 20-rebound game by a rookie since Shaquille O’Neal had 46 points and 21 rebounds on Feb. 16, 1993. The No. 1 pick in the draft also had a blocked shot and a steal while collecting his 39th double-double in 65 games.

“I’ve never seen so much greatness before,” Wembanyama said. “The season has been going on for just some months. I’ve just witnessed so much greatness and I want to be a part of it. I always wanted to, but more and more seeing that I’m already able to compete with those guys. I’m not near, but I’m on the right path. I know it and I’m going to get there and soon.”


READ: NBA: Sochan nails winner as Wembanyama-less Spurs shock Suns

Brunson finished one point shy of Carmelo Anthony’s franchise record of 62 points on Jan. 24, 2014, missing a 3-pointer that would have given the Knicks the lead with 5.4 seconds remaining in OT.

“It’s great, but it’s washed out with the window with the loss,” Brunson said. “So, it doesn’t really matter.”

Brunson had the fifth-highest point total in the NBA this season.

“He’s special,” Knicks guard Donte DiVincenzo said. “I think he’s an All-NBA talent. Even if we didn’t come away with the win tonight, I think what he did tonight showed you that he’s one of the best guards in the East. Every single night, whatever it takes to win, he does that. Tonight, it was almost.”


READ: NBA: Brunson posts another 40-point game, leads Knicks past Kings

After stealing the ball in the final seconds to seal the victory, Wembanyama let out a huge scream in celebration and threw the ball into the stands. Will he pay for the souvenir?

“Nah,” Wembanyama said, laughing afterward. “Somebody else is going to.”

As they should, considering Wembanyama’s contributions in leading the Spurs to their first three-game winning streak of the season.

San Antonio Spurs Victor Wembanyama NBA

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama, center, clutches the ball as they defeat the New York Knicks in an overtime in an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Friday, March 29, 2024. (AP Photo/Eric Gay)

“He’s going to be one of the greatest players this game has seen,” Brunson said. “Just the way he’s built. What he’s been able to do so far. I have a lot of respect for him.”

Devin Vasell added 23 points for the Spurs (18-56), who are three victories from surpassing the worst record in franchise history of 20-62 set in 1997.

New York took its first lead at 113-112 with 4:39 remaining in regulation on a 3-pointer by DiVincenzo. There were five ties in the final minutes of regulation to set up overtime.

DiVincenzo finished with 20 points and set the Knicks’ single-season record for 3-pointers with 245.

New York (44-29) fell a half-game behind Cleveland (45-29) for third in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers beat the Philadelphia 76ers 117-114 on Friday.

Brunson surpassed his previous career best of 50 points against Phoenix on Dec. 15. The Knicks needed of all his heroics after an uncharacteristic poor defensive effort from Tom Thibodeau’s team.

After holding their previous 10 opponents to 93.4 points per game, including three under 80 points, the Knicks gave up 74 points in the first half to the Spurs.

“They stayed strong when New York made a heck of a run,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “To me, that’s the best part of the game. It shows that progression in what it takes to win a game in the NBA.”

San Antonio was a point shy of its season high of 75 points in the first half against Phoenix on Nov. 2.

Wembanyama alarmed the Spurs and their fans when he went limping off the court favoring his right leg with 6:24 remaining in the first quarter. He limped back to the locker room a minute later. After a tense five minutes, Wembanyama came sprinting back to the bench with two minutes left in the first quarter.

Wembanyama made the first attempt upon his return, a driving, scoop layup under Mitchell Robinson’s arm a minute into the second quarter.

The Spurs did lose Jeremy Sochan, who exited in the second quarter with a sore left ankle.

San Antonio led by as many as 13 in building a 38-27 lead in the opening quarter. It marked the first time the Spurs have scored 38 points in the opening quarter since Dec. 28, and they are 3-1 when scoring 38-plus.

“We give them confidence and they were just rolling from the beginning,” Brunson said. “I think we played well the rest of the game. We fought. They went on runs; we went on runs. We just kept on fighting, but at the beginning of the game just didn’t do good.”

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Knicks: Host Oklahoma City on Sunday night.

Spurs: Host Golden State on Sunday night.

TAGS: New York Knicks, San Antonio Spurs

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