Jalen Brunson’s Career-High 61 Overshadowed By Victor Wembanyama’s 40, 20 Rebounds in Spurs’ OT Win Over Knicks

Rookie Victor Wembanyama had the best game of his young career, as he scored a career-high 40 points (13-of-22 FG), and grabbed 20 rebounds (tied a career-high), in addition to dishing out seven assists in a Spurs’ 130-126 overtime win over the Knicks.Victor Wembanyama. Spurs vs Knicks, NB

That is to say, Jalen Brunson played as good as anyone can in a loss, as he scored a career-high 61 points (25-of-47 FG), had six assists, and four rebounds. To point out, in the 43 minutes Brunson was on the floor tonight, the Knicks outscored the Spurs by 20 points, however in the nine minutes he was on the bench, New York got outscored by 24 points. Since teammate Julius Randle has been out for much of the year with a shoulder injury, Brunson has stepped up in a big way, averaging a career-high 27.9 points (4th in NBA), 6.5 assists, and 3.6 rebounds.

Wembanyama left the game late in the first quarter after banging his knee, “I was hit on the bone so it just hurts, nothing bad,” The 20-year-old said after the game.

The initial scare was met with relief from the Spurs crowd in Frost Bank Arena, as Wembanyama soon later exited the locker room, and was welcomed back with a loud cheer upon walking out of the tunnel. After getting back in, to start the second quarter, the rookie didn’t show any signs of injury as he went on to score 38 more points throughout the rest of the game.

The last rookie to have a 40-point and 20-rebound game was Magic’s Shaquille O’Neal, who scored 46 points and had 21 rebounds vs. the Pistons on February 16, 1993.

Through his first 65 career NBA games, Wembanyama is averaging 21 points (46.8% FG; 32.4% 3-PT), 10.5 rebounds, and 3.6 assists to go along with 1.2 steals and 3.4 blocks.

These numbers have only been exceeded three times in NBA history (since steals and blocks era), and each of those seasons resulted in winning MVP, including Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (1973-74), Kareem (1975-76), and Hakeem Olajuwon (1993-94).

With 24 seconds left in the game, and the Spurs down by two, Wembanyama was fouled and after converting both clutch free throws, the score was tied at 121-121, which resulted in overtime. Wembanyama had five OT points, and was able to help the Spurs outlast the Knicks at home, which brings the season series to 1-1.

Following the end of the game ,Wembanyama threw the basketball into the crowd, which means one lucky fan caught a Brunson 61-point/Wemby 40-20 game ball. When asked if he will pay for the ball, Wembanyama laughed and said, “No somebody else is going to pay.”

To note, Brunson was one point shy of Carmelo Anthony’s franchise record of 62 points, which was accomplished in a game vs. the Bobcats on January 24, 2014. To mention, Brunson’s 47 shot attempts is the most in a game since Kobe Bryant had 60 points on 50 field goal attempts in his last career game (4/13/16).

Upon hearing in the postgame press conference that Brunson had the second-most points in franchise history, opposing coach Gregg Popovich responded, “Did he end up with 60? So my defensive strategy didn’t work very well.”

The Spurs were able to come away with a victory, despite losing Jeremy Sochan in the second quarter due to left knee soreness. The severity of the injury is unknown at this time, but he will be considered “questionable” for Sunday’s game against the Warriors, as the Spurs will err on the side of caution, considering they are last in the Western Conference standings (18-56 record).

On the other hand, in the Eastern Conference standings, the Knicks are half a game behind the Cavaliers, while being the fourth seed (44-29 record), as they prepare to take on the Thunder Sunday in Madison Square Garden.

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