san antonio – Generational talents Victor Wimpanyama and LeBron James collided on Friday, leading the Spurs to beat the Lakers 129-115, snapping a losing streak of 18 consecutive games.
The 19-year-old was already involved in an epic senior battle against Anthony Davis on Wednesday, when James sat out with a calf injury.
This time, Davis sat (hip) and James took the floor.
Final Score: The Spurs’ starters marched to the bench with 1:48 remaining to a standing ovation at Frostbank Center.
The franchise’s record slide finally ends.
Here are five takeaways from the match.
1. Wembanyama starts his fourth straight game at center
The team lists the rookie as a striker, and Wimpanyama stated that “the best way for me to help” Spurs “is to not put me in a box.”
However, he has finished at center in four straight games now after playing power forward in his first 19 games.
Don’t make too much of it. Experimentation rules the day.
Spurs continue to use formations that feature Wambanyama surrounded by four players, and Friday’s game was no different in searching for the perfect combinations on the ground.
“I wouldn’t rate it as a 5” Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said. “He gets it on the wing, up high, on the block, in the paint. He’s everywhere offensively. If you want to call him a number five, that’s the guy he guards.”
We have seen signs of progress with Wembanyama starting at center. He is averaging 19.8 points with 16.5 rebounds and 4.3 blocks in these last four contests.
The rookie also plays a key role in improving the club’s defence.
The Spurs rose to 12th in defensive efficiency (114.2 points per 100 possessions) over the past 10 games heading into Friday’s contest, largely on Wembanyama’s 8-foot wingspan.
2. The confrontation between Wimpy and LeBron is calm
Wednesday’s Davis-Wimpanyama game sparked more fireworks than we saw on Friday, as the big men combined for 67 points and 23 rebounds in the Lakers’ 122-119 win.
But the crowd of 18,354 got a glimpse late in the second quarter of an eventful series featuring generational stars who entered the league 20 years apart. James found himself with the ball in the corner opposite the 7-foot-4 Wembanyama.
The 38-year-old drilled a 23-foot step-back jumper to give Los Angeles a 66-60 lead.
“Just trying to get his hands on the ground “A little bit because I know his wings,” James said. “I was trying to create a little more space and shoot a little higher.”
Wimbanyama admitted that he felt the collective eyes of the Frostbank Center fixed on him at that moment.
“It was a very high shot,” he said.
The rookie expected to be stunned against James, a four-time NBA champion and four-time MVP. Once the competition started flowing, the 19-year-old focused solely on movement on the ground.
“No, I didn’t have it [any] “My feelings are in court,” Wimbanyama said.
The 19-year-old said the stars did not speak after the match.
3. Anthony Davis’ advice to Wimpy: “Don’t put pressure on yourself.”
Davis expressed sympathy earlier in the week about Wimpanyama’s status as a generational talent charged with turning around the franchise’s fortunes.
The No. 1 overall pick in 2012, Davis entered the league under the weight of high expectations. But the 30-year-old said his experience at the 2012 London Olympics made the transition easier. Davis played alongside James that summer on an American team that also included veterans Kobe Bryant and Carmelo Anthony.
“You’re going to have ups and downs,” Davis said Tuesday after the Lakers’ loss to Dallas. “But don’t put pressure on yourself because of the pressure that everyone else is putting on. You have to know what your team wants from you, and don’t think you can change the franchise in your first year.”
Davis shouted to James In the visitor’s locker room: “What. What?” [did] Are you doing this in your first year?
James replied: “As much as what?”
“Playoffs,” Davis said.
James spent that time “in Cancun enjoying himself.”
The NBA’s all-time leading scorer made Davis’ point.
“Even the greatest to ever tie didn’t do it in his first year,” Davis said. “So, I think you just take it slow, take your time, and every year your game gets better and better.”
4. Tottenham are not closing the door on potential additions
You’ve heard it before, but San Antonio lacks depth in the backcourt. Trey Jones is the only traditional point guard on the roster, and he comes off the bench.
When asked about completing potential moves before the February 8 trade deadline, Popovich stated, “We have what we have, and that’s what we’re going to work with.”
This is not entirely true.
Despite the struggling Spurs doing their best to develop second-year forward Jeremy Sochan into a point guard, the team plans to keep an open mind if an ideal trade scenario materializes.
Any possible move It will be made with a long-term window in mind rather than the present. Individual development and team concepts remain the focus this season.
“But if there is a trade that would make sense now and in the long term, of course we would look at it,” Popovich said. “[General manager] Brian Wright and his men are probably already doing that.
5. Wembanyama equals Dwight Howard’s mark in double doubles
The 19-year-old rookie scored his seventh straight double-double in just three quarters against the Lakers to tie Dwight Howard for the most consecutive double-doubles in NBA history by a teenager.
Wembanyama scored 11 points and grabbed 12 rebounds during the first three quarters as San Antonio entered the final frame leading 98-87. The rookie finished with 13 points, 15 rebounds, five assists, two steals and two blocks.
Howard set the record As a 19-year-old in his second season in Orlando, he notched seven straight double-doubles from Nov. 5 to Nov. 19, the last coming just 19 days before his 20th birthday.
As for Wembanyama, this new accomplishment means little compared to San Antonio winning its first game in 43 days.
“Of course, I don’t want to lose again, but it will happen,” he said. “We just have to enjoy these moments because I am addicted to winning. This is what I love and this is what I live for.”
Michael C. Wright is a senior writer for NBA.com. You can email him heresearch for his archive here And follow him Twitter.
The opinions expressed on this page do not necessarily reflect the opinions of the NBA, its clubs, or Warner Bros. Discovery.
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