NBA

Individual feats 'secondary' to wins for Wembanyama

By Sports Desk February 24, 2024

Victor Wembanyama wants victories, not individual feats, after he joined Michael Jordan in the NBA record books.

Wembanyama became just the second NBA rookie, after Jamaal Tinsley in 2001, to post at least five points, five rebounds, five assists, five steals and five blocks in a single game. He is just the second player to have five blocks and as many steals in successive games, after the great Jordan.

However, his efforts proved fruitless for the San Antonio Spurs, who lost 113-108 to the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday.

Wembanyama finished with 27 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, five steals and five blocks. He is just the 15th player in the NBA to record a 5x5.

But for the overall number one draft pick, wins are the priority.

"To me, it's secondary," Wembanyama said. "Hopefully in the future, and think this is a good performance, but as of today, I can't be satisfied with a loss."

LeBron James returned from injury to score 30 points for the Lakers, while Anthony Davis had 28 points and 13 rebounds.

"Of course it was challenging [going against] one of the best duos in the league," Wembanyama said of facing two of the NBA's star players.

"But still, I think it's a lot of teams we beat if we play this way.

"But I think it came down to maturity at the end because each and every one of us was making a mistake each of the times.

"Little mistakes, missing a layup, turning the ball over. We went down, we went back to down four, down seven multiple times and that's when we did mistakes. So yeah, it's maturity."

Even though the Spurs have lost 10 of their last 11 games, James believes the sky truly is the limit for Wembanyama.

"He doesn't have a ceiling," James said.

"He can do whatever he wants to do with his career. It seems like he enjoys the game. It seems like he puts in the work. Just from the outside looking in, I'm not with him on a day-to-day basis, but I said a long time ago how special he was, and it's literally that simple.

"There are guys in our league that you have to account for any time you get around the rim or around the perimeter in our league history, and he sits right at the top of it, [if not] around the top, with all the greats.

"He's one of them to have like a stellar rookie season. Guys that have come in and [dominated]. But, it's, can you sustain it? We've had guys that have come in and [have] just been really damn [good]."

The Lakers returned to winning ways following their loss to the Golden State Warriors, but coach Darvin Ham was not entirely satisfied with the performance.

"You want your team to constantly look within and try to make plays and force the other team to put you in uncomfortable positions," Ham said.

"Not you put yourself in those uncomfortable positions, whether it's not sprinting back in transition or allowing teams to get two or three offensive rebounds. Or, you know, fouling because we're not in position because we're not doing our work early. And then going down the other end and not trusting the execution.

"We've got a bunch of weapons, but they're useless if we don't do the little things, sprinting hard when we get the ball in transition, not turning it over, maintaining spacing, making sure we get hits on screens to create an advantage and making the simple, easy play."

Related items

  • NBA: Brunson's 39 points lift Knicks past Celtics NBA: Brunson's 39 points lift Knicks past Celtics

    Jalen Brunson needed only three quarters to score 39 points and the New York Knicks continued their push for the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference with a 118-109 win over the league-leading Boston Celtics on Thursday.

    Brunson was 15 of 23 from the field and 6 for 11 from long range, while Donte DiVincenzo added 17 points and Josh Hart had 16 points and 16 rebounds.

    New York won its third straight and pulled within a game of Milwaukee for second in the East, with each team having two games left. The Knicks would need to win both and have the Bucks lose their games at Oklahoma City and Orlando, because Milwaukee has the head-to-head tiebreaker.

    The Knicks dominated on the glass, 52-36, and had 22 second-chance points compared to 12 for the Celtics.

    Boston got 18 points from Jayson Tatum and lost its second in a row. 

     

    Surging Warriors handle Trail Blazers

    Stephen Curry scored 22 points and Jonathan Kuminga added 22 to propel the Golden State Warriors to their ninth win in 10 games, 100-92 over the Portland Trail Blazers.

    Golden State, which played without Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, has already clinched a play-in spot but can potentially improve its playoff seeding in the final two games.

    With their 45th victory, the Warriors surpassed their win total from last season, when they advanced to the conference semifinals.

    Deandre Ayton had 25 points and 11 rebounds and Scoot Henderson tallied 18 and 12 assists for the Trail Blazers, who have won just two of their past 15 games.

     

    Pelicans complete season sweep of Kings

    CJ McCollum and Zion Williamson scored 31 points apiece and the New Orleans Pelicans completed a five-game season sweep of the Sacramento Kings with a 135-123 win.

    McCollum matched a season high with nine 3-pointers in 12 tries and added seven assists for the Pelicans, who improved to 27-14 on the road, a franchise record for wins and tied with Boston for the best mark in the NBA.

    New Orleans is sixth in the Western Conference, one game ahead of Phoenix with two games remaining.

    De’Aaron Fox scored 33 points as the Kings lost for the fourth time in five games and failed in a bid to avoid the play-in tournament.

  • Hawks won't have injured Johnson, Oknogwu for NBA Play-In Tournament Hawks won't have injured Johnson, Oknogwu for NBA Play-In Tournament

    The Atlanta Hawks' path to reaching the NBA play-offs has become much more difficult.

    The Hawks will be without forward Jalen Johnson and centre Onyeka Okongwu for several weeks, meaning they'll miss next week's Play-In Tournament.

    Johnson exited Tuesday's loss to the Miami Heat with a right ankle injury, and the Hawks announced Thursday that an MRI revealed a Grade 2 lateral sprain. He'll be re-evaluated in approximately three weeks.

    Okongwu, who last played March 21 due to a left big toe sprain, underwent a non-surgical procedure on Tuesday to address inflammation. His recovery time is approximately four weeks.

    Atlanta is guaranteed a spot in the Play-In Tournament, and entered play Thursday in 10th place in the Eastern Conference - 1 /2 games behind the Chicago Bulls. The two teams will meet in the Play-In Tournament, with the winner facing the loser of the game between the 7 and 8 seeds for a spot in the play-offs.

    Both Johnson and Okongwu have played big parts for the Hawks this season.

    Johnson started 52 of the 56 games he played in, averaging career highs of 16.0 points and 8.7 rebounds - the second highest on Atlanta behind Clint Capela's average of 10.6 boards.

    Okongwu has appeared in 55 games, with averages of 10.2 points and 6.8 rebounds. In eight starts, he had averages of 16.1 points and 8.5 boards.

    One bit of good news for the Hawks is Trae Young returned in Wednesday's 115-114 loss to the Charlotte Hornets after missing 23 games with a torn ligament in his left pinkie.

    The three-time All-Star point guard made all five of his field-goal attempts, finishing with 14 points and 11 assists in 21 minutes in his first game since February 23.

  • Irving: Mavs 'just getting started' with Southwest Division triumph Irving: Mavs 'just getting started' with Southwest Division triumph

    Kyrie Irving declared the red-hot Dallas Mavericks are "just getting started" after Wednesday's 111-92 win over the Miami Heat saw them wrap up the Southwest Division title.

    Irving had 25 points in support of Luka Doncic, who fell just short of his 22nd triple-double of the season by finishing with 29 points, nine rebounds and nine assists at Kaseya Center.

    Dallas have hit 50 wins for the season with two games remaining, having won 16 times in their last 18 games, their only defeats in that span coming on the road against the Oklahoma City Thunder and the Golden State Warriors. 

    After they pulled clear of the New Orleans Pelicans to become Southwest champions for the first time since 2020-21, Irving told his team-mates to celebrate, but also to stay focused on the bigger prizes.

    "We just know that the job isn't finished and we're just getting started," Irving said after Wednesday's game. "But we do have to celebrate the small wins.

    "Tonight was a step in that direction of celebrating a small win, just to get to 50 wins. Some guys in that locker room haven't experienced 50 wins. It's a total organizational effort, top to bottom."

    The Mavs have won five in a row since last dropping a game against the Warriors, and they are now within one game of the Los Angeles Clippers for the Western Conference's fourth seed.

    Head coach Jason Kidd said: "It sounds great. We've checked the box on one goal."

    The Heat, meanwhile, saw their hopes of avoiding the Play-In Tournament take a blow as Jimmy Butler was held to just 12 points, Tyler Herro leading the hosts with 21.

    Miami are now two games back of the Indiana Pacers, who occupy the Eastern Conference's sixth seed, and one behind the Philadelphia 76ers in seventh.

    Head coach Erik Spoelstra is confident they will bounce back quickly, saying: "We have a great group. We have a very competitive locker room. We all want the same thing.

    "Sometimes, this league can just really humble you, and that's what happened tonight."

© 2023 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.