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Wembanyama calls for Spurs to play smart after falling short against Lakers

Victor Wembanyama says the San Antonio Spurs need to “play smart” to end their franchise-record losing run, after his 30-point haul wasn’t enough against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday.

The Lakers were missing four-time NBA MVP LeBron James due to a calf injury, but Anthony Davis stepped up with a game-high 37 points as they clinched a 122-119 win at Frost Bank Center.

This year’s first overall draft pick Wembanyama managed 30 points, 13 rebounds and six blocks for the Spurs, but a late rally from the hosts wasn’t enough as they slipped to an 18th straight defeat.

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Asked whether San Antonio’s improved performance was a sign of things to come, the 19-year-old said: “I think it’s going to look better when we win.

“I don’t think it comes down to set plays or tactics or anything. I think it’s more like playing hard and playing smart.

“In the first half, we had neither of those. At least if we’re not making shots or if we can’t get to the basket on offense, we need to get stops.”

The Lakers improved to 15-10 as they bounced back from a 127-125 defeat to the Dallas Mavericks on Tuesday, and they have a chance to make it a double when they face the 3-20 Spurs again on Friday.

They will be wary of the threat posed by Wembanyama after he impressed Lakers coach Darvin Ham, who said of the rookie: “He doesn’t stop competing. When the game was hanging in the balance, he made some big plays for them.

“Once the momentum got on their side, it seemed like they rolled it to the very end, but we hung in there. We gutted it out.

“Obviously, we are comfortable with the result, with the ‘W’, but we’ve definitely got to get better at some things, and we will.”

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