Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs
Photo credit: Sports Illustrated

Wembanyama posts 40-20 game as Spurs beat Knicks and Brunson

Published March 30, 2024 at 1:53 PM
BY KEVIN BARREAU
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Victor Wembanyama showcased a stellar performance in his burgeoning NBA journey, setting a career-high with 40 points to propel the San Antonio Spurs past the New York Knicks 130-126 on Friday.

In a thrilling showdown resembling a heavyweight bout, the Frenchman dominated the court with 20 rebounds and seven assists, even amidst the outstanding effort from Knicks' point-guard Jalen Brunson, who notched a career-high 61 points.

Despite Brunson's remarkable display, Wembanyama stole the spotlight, culminating in a pivotal three-pointer during overtime to secure the victory for his team.

Hailed as one of the most promising NBA prospects, Wembanyama etched his name in history, becoming the first rookie since Shaquille O'Neal in 1993 to achieve a 40-point, 20-rebound performance, according to NBA records.


"These efforts, these results, we wouldn't have gotten them at the start of the year," Wembanyama said as he addressed the Frost Bank Center crowd after the game. "Seventy games into the season, I still see this place packed every night. Love you guys. Love the support. Go Spurs go!"

Despite pouring all his efforts, the night proved to be a source of frustration for Brunson. Despite achieving a career-high 61 points, it wasn't sufficient to clinch victory. Adding to the disappointment, he fell just one point short of surpassing the Knicks' single-game scoring record, established by Carmelo Anthony in 2014.

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Spurs head coach Gregg Popovich commended the "amazing" performance by Brunson, yet he reserved special acknowledgment for Wembanyama's growth and progress in the league.

The Spurs kicked off the season in a dire fashion, heading towards one of the worst records in history, notably marked by an 18-game losing streak. However, they've experienced a recent turnaround, securing victories in seven of their last 15 matchups. Wembanyama has played a pivotal role in this resurgence, emerging as the frontrunner for Rookie of the Year honors. Despite recent struggles in shooting, Wembanyama showcased impressive performances from January to March, averaging 23 points, 11 rebounds, four assists, and four blocks over a 25-game span, with shooting splits of 49/39/81. It's worth noting that four out of his top five highest-scoring games have culminated in victories.

The Spurs' late-season surge prompts speculation about their approach to utilizing their cap space in the upcoming summer. While the initial strategy appeared to involve gradual integration of Wembanyama, the 20-year-old prodigy now presents the potential to become the cornerstone of a championship-caliber team next season. If he has been able to orchestrate victories with the current roster, envisioning his impact alongside seasoned veterans is tantalizing. This situation warrants close observation as free agency approaches in the summer.

Source CBS Sports : Victor Wembanyama becomes first rookie with 40-20 game since Shaq as Spurs outlast Knicks and Jalen Brunson
Source CNN : Victor Wembanyama produces masterclass as San Antonio Spurs overcome Jalen Brunson's career-high night
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Wembanyama posts 40-20 game as Spurs beat Knicks and Brunson

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