TORONTO – Victor Wembanyama had a triple-double to power the San Antonio Spurs to a 122-99 rout of the Toronto Raptors on Monday to snap a seven-game losing skid.
The No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high 10 blocks for San Antonio (11-43). He also had five assists.
Devin Vassell had 25 points for the Spurs, including five three-pointers, and six assists.
Rookie Gradey Dick — selected 12 spots after Wembanyama in last summer’s draft — led Toronto (19-35) with 18 points and two rebounds.
Centre Kelly Olynyk also came off the bench for 17 points and fellow Canadian RJ Barrett had 13 points and five boards as Toronto struggled with its shooting on a night when the Spurs were deadly from range.
The Raptors finished with 39.8 per cent on their field goals, including 25.8 from three-point range. San Antonio shot 52.9 per cent on its field-goal attempts, including 36.7 per cent on its threes.
Wembanyama got a loud ovation from the 19,800 fans at Scotiabank Arena when he was introduced during warm-ups. The Frenchman was selected first overall in last year’s draft by the Spurs. He’s lived up to those expectations in his rookie season, averaging 20.3 points, 10 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.
The 20-year-old Wembanyama had an immediate impact Monday, blocking Jakob Poeltl’s layup attempt on the game’s very first shot, then nailing a three-pointer on San Antonio’s first possession, before grabbing a rebound on the next defensive sequence.
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He carried San Antonio to a quick 10-0 lead, before Toronto fired back with a run of its own to tie it up. Although the Spurs answered with another eight straight points, they only held a 34-28 lead after one quarter.
An 11-2 San Antonio run, including five points and two assists from Wembanyama, staked the visitors to a 15-point lead. The Spurs led by as much as 19 points in the second quarter, going into intermission with a 67-50 advantage.
San Antonio shot 62.8 per cent on its field goals in the half, including 53.8 per cent (7 of 13) from beyond the arch. Toronto could only muster 45.8 per cent field on it field goals, and 25 per cent (3 of 12) on three-pointers in the first two quarters.
The Raptors opened the third with an 8-3 run to close that gap, but San Antonio answered that with 11 consecutive points to stretch its lead to 22.
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Wembanyama caught an alley-oop dunk with 1:17 left in the third quarter to give the Spurs a 100-70 lead and get his points total up to 30.
With 6:44 left in the fourth quarter and San Antonio leading by 27, Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic started flushing his bench, putting rarely used players such as Jordan Nwora and Jontay Porter out on the court.
POPP’S LEARNING TREE — Rajakovic spent seven years with the Spurs organization, serving as a scouting consultant and NBA Summer League assistant coach from 2004-11. Spurs president and head coach Gregg Popovich said that Rajakovic impressed him when he was in San Antonio.
“He’s a serious dude. He’s a detailed guy. He delves all the way down to the basics. He doesn’t miss anything. He doesn’t skip any steps,” said Popovich pre-game. “He’s very confident about what it takes to win and what it takes to make up a team and put a team together and create a culture.”
UP NEXT — Former Raptors star Pascal Siakam and the Indiana Pacers visit Toronto on Wednesday, his first game against his former team since he was traded on Jan. 17.
The Spurs continue their road trip with a game in Dallas on Wednesday.
This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2024.
© 2024 The Canadian Press
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