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Victor Wembanyama: NBA rookie says San Antonio Spurs ‘need a rest’ after win over New Orleans Pelicans

Victor Wembanyama

NBA sensation Victor Wembanyama said he is “craving” his homeland of France despite continuing his exceptional rookie season by helping San Antonio Spurs win 111-109 at the New Orleans Pelicans.

Wembanyama missed all six of his shots from the field during the first half as Spurs trailed 61-51 at the break, but the 20-year-old proceeded to score 15 of his 17 points during the second half and finish a fifth consecutive game with at least five assists as Gregg Popovich’s team rallied impressively.

“You can only salute the team effort,” said Wembanyama, singling out point guard Devonte’ Graham’s team-leading contribution of 20 points in 25 minutes.

“Everything worked out – we fitted together as a team. We want to finish strong and build. If we want to be the best, there’s no time to waste.

“We all need a rest but we’ve made a commitment and every single game, we’re going to be 100%. That’s how it’s going to go. Right now, I’m craving home. Nothing will really satisfy me except France.”

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The Pelicans might have won but for 7ft 4in Wembanyama’s block on Herb Jones’ shot in the final seconds for the 15th-placed side in the Western Conference.

The result meant Spurs ended a run of two consecutive defeats, losing 110-105 at Denver Nuggets on Wednesday following a 117-113 loss at home to Golden State Warriors two days earlier.

Spurs v Pelicans: Popovich pleased

“He’s always been a good passer since he got here in the summer,” Graham said of Wembanyama. “As the season goes on, you get more reads and he’s doing a better job of finding the open guys who can make shots.”

Spurs had lost the previous seven editions of the game but gained a measure of revenge by inflicting a fourth consecutive home defeat on the Pelicans.

“Our physicality picked up in the second half,” observed Popovich. “It took a good number of people to keep up the energy. We started slowly but the second half came around and we physically played better.

“They’re a very unselfish group. We’ve been a great assists team all year. We did a little bit of a better job in not turning it over as much as we do when we lose.

“We shot it fairly well. They try to play for the whole 48. We’re not as consistent as we need to be but it’ll come as the future approaches.”

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