Wembanyama scores 38 points, shines in 4th quarter, as Spurs hold off Suns 132-121

By DAVID BRANDT – AP Sports Writer

PHOENIX (AP) – The San Antonio Spurs were reeling in the fourth quarter Thursday night, struggling to find their footing after the Phoenix Suns blew a 27-point lead and threatened to complete an epic comeback victory.

Instead, Victor Wembanyama took over.

It probably won’t be the last time it happens.

The 19-year-old rookie scored a season-high 38 points, Zach Collins added 19 and the Spurs held off Phoenix 132-121 on Thursday night.

The Suns destroyed a 27-point deficit, tying it at 116 with 4:21 left on a Keita Bates-Diop 3-pointer, but the Spurs responded by scoring the next 12 points, including 10 from the precocious Wembanyama.

“Somebody has to do it,” Wembanyama said. “Tomorrow he might be one of my teammates.”

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In his fifth NBA game, Wembanyama made a handful of highlight plays, including a fly down the lane for a dunk in the second quarter. The 7-foot-4 French shot 15 of 26 from the field and had 10 rebounds.

“He’s a versatile player — he’ll transition to the open man,” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He has confidence in himself. He made some incredible plays. That combination is good.”

But his own situation was the most impressive stretch. The 19-year-old forward hit a 3-pointer, made three free throws, dunked and hit an 18-foot jumper during the decisive run.

“Every game, we try to find the sweet spot where we need to hurt them,” Wembanyama said. “It could be like this today, tomorrow it could be someone else. That’s how great teams work.”

Devin Booker Phoenix returned from a sprained ankle and had a near triple double with 31 points, 13 assists and nine rebounds. But it wasn’t enough for the Suns, who had 14 turnovers. Kevin Durant had 28 points.

This was the second time in three days that the Spurs beat the Suns in Phoenix. San Antonio surprised Phoenix 115-114 on Tuesday night, erasing a 20-point deficit and scoring the winning basket after Keldon Johnson stole the ball from Durant in the closing seconds and made a controversial layup with 1.2 seconds left.

On Thursday, it looked like San Antonio would win with a blowout.

The Spurs were up 13-0 after the Suns missed their first five shots and never trailed. San Antonio pushed its advantage to 27 points midway through the second quarter, taking advantage of Phoenix’s sloppy play on both ends of the floor.

The Spurs led 75-55 at the break after Wembanyama hit back-to-back 3s late in the second quarter.

“The NBA got the best athletes in the world,” Wembanyama said. “But so far, it’s going well.”

Booker made a 3 pointer that cut it to 14 points entering the fourth quarter. The Suns continued their methodical pressure until Bates-Diop’s fourth dunk on an assist from Booker cut it to 111-108 with 6:04 left.

“We came out and fought in the second half,” Booker said. “Now we’re going to try to put two halves together so we can play a full game.”

Spurs: Host Toronto on Sunday.

Suns: At Philadelphia on Saturday.

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