April 23, 2024

‘So much greatness’ — Brunson’s 61 can’t conquer Wemby (40-20), Spurs

SAN ANTONIO — Elated at his first profession three-game win streak coming in dramatic time beyond regulation, Victor Wembanyama threw the basketball into the stands moments after the San Antonio Spurs outlasted the New York Knicks, 130-126, Friday evening.

A ball boy working the Knicks bench sprinted as much as retrieve it from the fan who caught it as a result of it was an immediate beneficial piece of memorabilia from an immediate basic recreation.

Wembanyama had a career-high 40 factors to go together with 20 rebounds in a duel with Knicks’ guard Jalen Brunson who had 61 factors, the second-highest scoring recreation in Knicks historical past behind Carmelo Anthony’s 62 in a recreation towards the Charlotte Bobcats in 2014.

“I’ve never seen so (much) greatness before this season…I’ve just witnessed so much greatness and I want to be a part of it,” Wembanyama mentioned going towards Brunson, the seventh participant to attain 60 in a recreation this season.

“I always wanted to, but more and more seeing that already able to, compete with those guys. I’m not near (them) but I’m on the right path. I know it and I’m going to get there one day soon.”

According to ESPN Stats & Information analysis, it is solely the second time in NBA historical past that one participant had a 40-point, 20-rebound recreation and one other had a 60-point contest. The different occasion got here in 1961 when Elgin Baylor scored 63 factors and Wilt Chamberlain had 78 factors and 43 rebounds.

Brunson scored 38 factors within the second half, tied with Patrick Ewing in 1995 for probably the most factors in a half in Knicks historical past, as he led the Knicks to a 21-point comeback. He made 25-of-47 photographs, probably the most taken in an NBA recreation since Kobe Bryant’s well-known farewell recreation in 2016. Brunson’s earlier profession excessive was 50 factors on Dec. 15 towards the Phoenix Suns.

The Knicks, profiting from key Spurs defender Jeremy Sochan leaving with an ankle harm, repeatedly cleared the ground and let Brunson work in pure isolation. Other instances he attacked Wembanyama in pick-and-rolls, hitting jumper after jumper from midrange.

At one level within the third quarter he ended up 1-on-1 with Wembanyama on the prime of the important thing. He went left, jammed his foot into the ground to cease himself jetted backward as Wembanyama misplaced place. After splashing the jumper he pumped his fist, relishing the second.

“He’s going to be one of the greatest players this game’s seen,” Brunson mentioned. “Just the way he’s built and what he’s been able to do so far. So I’ve got a lot of respect for him and it’s definitely tough to get a shot up and in over him.”

Brunson wasn’t within the temper to mirror too much on his efficiency, annoyed the Knicks had misplaced to the crew with the worst document within the Western Conference. He was simply 1-of-5 capturing in time beyond regulation and the Spurs double teamed him on the finish of regulation, forcing a cross to Miles McBride, who missed an open take a look at the buzzer.

Wembanyama scored 5 factors with two rebounds and steal in time beyond regulation. He additionally had 13 factors and 6 rebounds within the fourth quarter as he helped the Spurs struggle off Brunson’s cost.

“I don’t think I’ve ever seen that,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich mentioned of the Brunson-Wembanyama stat strains. “It just shows what (Wembanyama) is going to be when he understands all the physicality that’s coming at him all the time and what to do about it. Fortunately, he’s also a hell of an instinctive passer and he’s willing to do what he needs to do in that regard. So he’s pretty special.”

Knicks coach Tom Thibodeau rode referees all through the sport, annoyed Brunson solely bought six free throw makes an attempt regardless of excessive quantity drives to the basketball. The Spurs had a 32-12 free throw edge, Wembanyama had 12 himself and made 10 together with two that tied the sport on the finish of the fourth quarter.

“A foul is a foul,” Thibodeau mentioned. “I don’t know what else you could do, what else you can say. It’s clear as day. It really is that simple.”

When requested if he’d spend any time contemplating he’s now certainly one of simply three Knicks to ever scored greater than 60 factors in a recreation – along with Anthony, Bernard King famously scored 60 factors on Christmas Day towards the New Jersey Nets in 1984 — Brunson was glum:

“When I retire.”