The San Antonio Spurs came into Thursday’s game against the Portland Trail Blazers on a 5-game losing streak, desperate for a win. The injury-riddled Blazers, missing 3 of their best players, seemed like the perfect opponent for the Spurs to get back on track. And that’s exactly what happened, as San Antonio cruised to a 118-105 victory behind a historic performance from #1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama.
Wembanyama Dominates With 30 Points and 7 Blocks
Wembanyama was the clear star of the show, stuffing the stat sheet with 30 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and a jaw-dropping 7 blocks. The 7’3″ French phenom showed off his unique combination of length, agility and skill, swatting shots with ease and sinking turnaround jumpers over defenders.
Wembanyama made some NBA history along the way, becoming the first teenager with at least 30 points and 7 blocks in a game since some guy named LeBron back in 2004. It was a performance that showed why Wembanyama is viewed as a generational talent and future face of the league.
|Victor Wembanyama Stats
Supporting Cast Steps Up for Spurs
While Wembanyama stole the spotlight, he got plenty of help from his supporting cast. Point guard Tre Jones set the tone with aggressive drives to the rim, finishing with 10 points and 11 assists. Sophomore wing Malaki Branham chipped in with 22 points, while center Jakob Poeltl controlled the paint with 12 points and 13 rebounds.
The Spurs shared the ball extremely well all night, dishing out 32 assists on 44 made field goals. Their selfless brand of basketball resulted in wide open looks all over the court. San Antonio shot over 54% as a team, including 46% from beyond the arc.
When the Spurs move the ball like that and get such great production from their young core, they are a dangerous team capable of big offensive outputs.
Blazers Down 3 Starters
If it wasn’t already obvious, the Blazers were severely undermanned coming into this game. They were missing three of their best players in Damian Lillard (calf), Anfernee Simons (illness) and Jusuf Nurkic (thigh). Those three combine to average around 60 points per game this season.
Without that firepower, the Blazers struggled mightily to generate offense. Backup point guard Shaedon Sharpe did his best Lillard impression with 20 points and 10 assists. Veteran forward Josh Hart also pitched in 18 points and 15 rebounds. But it wasn’t nearly enough scoring to keep up with the hot-shooting Spurs.
|Blazers Missing Players
|Points Per Game
Lillard, especially, was clearly missed. The Blazers simply didn’t have someone capable of breaking down the defense and scoring at all three levels without their All-Star point guard. His playmaking and clutch shot-making in the fourth quarter could have made things much more interesting.
Outlook Going Forward
This was an extremely encouraging win for a young Spurs team trying to find its way. If Wembanyama can stack more monster performances like this and their supporting cast continues maturing, the future is very bright in San Antonio. This game showed the tantalizing potential of the Wembanyama/Jones/Branham trio.
However, the Spurs can’t get too high off one victory. The franchise is focused on the long view after missing the playoffs four straight years. Consistency and gradual improvement will be key as they continue stockpiling young talent.
For the Blazers, the return of Lillard and Nurkic from injury will go a long way toward getting back on track. This team fashions itself a contender in the Western Conference when at full strength. They will be anxious to quickly bounce back and forget this lackluster showing without several key cogs.
Up next, the Spurs and Blazers will complete their two-game series on Saturday night back in Portland. We’ll see if San Antonio can string together another impressive performance. But a healthier Blazers squad will likely have some extra motivation after this loss.
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