SAN ANTONIO — Victor Wembanyama‘s NBA debut was spoiled as the San Antonio Spurs suffered a 126-119 season-opening loss in front of 18,947 fans at the Frost Bank Center on Wednesday night.
The Story: Wembanyama only played 23 minutes after struggling with foul trouble for much of the game as Luka Doncic and company used a big fourth-quarter push to grab the win.
- Wembanyama finished with 15 points, including nine in the fourth quarter, to go along with five rebounds and 67 percent shooting from the floor.
- Devin Vassell led the Spurs with 23 points on 57 percent shooting. Keldon Johnson added 17 but had two costly turnovers in the final minutes that would cost San Antonio.
- Doncic led Dallas with a triple-double as he posted 33 points, 13 rebounds, and 10 assists in a winning effort.
“We cut it short with quick shots, just not moving the basketball,” Spurs Head Coach Gregg Popovich said after the game.
Growing pains: Wembanyama’s highly anticipated debut was hampered by foul trouble as he finished with five fouls, which left his teammates to overlook his offensive capabilities late in the game.
- Wemby picked up his fifth foul 15 seconds into the fourth quarter, forcing Popovich to sit him until the 7:31 mark of the final period.
- When Wemby returned, he found his offensive flow but his teammates failed to get him the ball when it mattered down the stretch.
“One of the toughest things for a player is to get into foul trouble,” Popovich said. “We ran some stuff for him, he executed where a lot of guys would have been totally out of it by then because, as you said, were in foul trouble and didn’t get the rhythm. I thought he had a wonderful outing considering that.”
Going big: San Antonio opened the season with its ‘big’ lineup of Johnson, Vassell, Wemby, Zach Collins, and Jeremy Sochan, a group Popovich will likely move forward with.
- Dallas outscored San Antonio 56-46 in the paint, due to a combination of Wemby’s absence for much of the game and Dallas rookie Dereck Lively II scoring 16 points and 10 rebounds off the bench.
Moving forward: The Spurs will use Wednesday’s season opener to learn from their mistakes; from how to use Wemby on the offensive end to cutting down on turnovers.
“We’re all hungry already for the whole season,” Wembanyama said. “We want to start our season with the most wins possible to launch us for the rest of the season, so we’re really eager to play on Friday.”
Up Next: The Spurs are now 0-1 on the season and will return to the court on Friday night when they host the Houston Rockets (0-1) at the Frost Bank Center.