More aggressive Wembanyama in second strongest NBA Summer League game – News Block

Victor Wembanyama Spurs NBA Summer League

Victor Wembanyama of the San Antonio Spurs dunks over Justin Minaya of the Portland Trail Blazers during the first half of an NBA Summer League basketball game Sunday, July 9, 2023, in Las Vegas. (AP Photo/John Locher)

LAS VEGAS — Victor Wembanyama was screaming in celebration, punching the air, even receiving a band-aid on his right cheek due to something physical.

For his second act in Las Vegas, Wembanyama showed some fire.

The No. 1 pick in this year’s draft looked a lot more like himself in his second Summer League game on Sunday. He finished with 27 points and 12 rebounds, but the Spurs lost 85-80 to the Portland Trail Blazers.

He was 9-of-14 from the floor, 7-of-12 from the line, blocked three shots and led a comeback where the Spurs cut a 19-point deficit to one but never led.

There were also moments that reminded everyone that it’s still an NBA work in progress: He hit his third 3-pointer in two games, moved off his spot a couple of times on rebounding opportunities, but it was clearly a more Wemby-like game. than was the case at his debut on Friday night.

He was just 2-of-13 from the field in San Antonio’s opening win in Las Vegas over Charlotte; he shot much better in Game 2. he missed his first shot, then missed a couple of free throws before hitting an 18-foot jumper from the right wing for his first points, and he ran from there.

And there were highlights. He rebounded to himself left-handed, basically throwing the ball back to himself for a dunk on Portland’s Jabari Walker. That seemed to energize him; Moments later, after blocking a shot at one end, he ran down the court, was rewarded with a pass from Julian Champagnie and threw another dunk on the Blazers’ Justin Minaya.

He also looked for contact in the third quarter; after missing from the bottom, he crossed the lane to catch his own miss and scored on the glass with his left hand while taking fouls, drawing more whoops from the crowd who were basically reacting one way or another to everything he did.

Sunday was still a sold-out Summer League (all three days have been sold out so far, a first for Vegas and clearly part of the Wemby effect), but the scene for the Wembanyama game wasn’t nearly as over-the-top as it was. for Debut on Friday. The bottom bin at the Thomas and Mack Center was full; the top bin had a few rows towards the top that were empty, which was not the case on Friday.

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich, whose new five-year deal with the team to remain as coach and president was announced Saturday, was in the stands for the second straight game. Jerry West was also watching again, just as he was on Friday in his usual baseline seat, and Spurs teammates Keldon Johnson and Jeremy Sochan were among the NBA players with good seats for the show. .

The NBA scheduled the Spurs-Blazers thinking they would be the No. 1 pick against the No. 3 pick, just like Wembanyama’s debut had him against No. 2 pick Brandon Miller on Friday. But the third pick in the draft, Portland’s Scoot Henderson, a player Wembanyama faced twice last year near Las Vegas in trade shows, missed the game with a shoulder injury sustained in his first summer game.

Spurs summer coach Matt Nielsen said he wasn’t sure if Wembanyama would continue to play in Las Vegas. If this were to end Wembanyama’s tenure in Las Vegas, it would continue the trend of No. 1 picks ending their summer tenure early.

Paolo Banchero played in two games for Orlando in 2022, Cade Cunningham played in three games for Detroit in 2021, Zion Williamson played in just one game, just nine minutes, actually, for New Orleans in 2019 before his stay was cut short by injury. , and Deandre Ayton played in four games with Phoenix in 2018. There was no Summer League in 2020 due to the pandemic.


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