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Spurs’ Wembanyama, Thunder’s Holmgren star in NBA preseason clash

October 11 ------ Victor Wembanyama put on an impressive display in his preseason debut but he was outdone by another big man playing in his first NBA exhibition contest, Chet Holmgren. Holmgren logged 21 points and 9 rebounds, guiding the host Oklahoma City Thunder to a 122-121 win over Wembanyama and the San Antonio Spurs. Wembanyama wound up with 20 points and 5 rebounds.

Wembanyama, the first overall pick in this year’s draft out of France, said of Holmgren, the second overall pick out of Gonzaga in the 2022 draft, “I feel like he hurt us. I know it’s just preseason but for sure the games against OKC are gonna be interesting.” Holmgren said, “I feel like Vic as well as myself really did a good job (Monday) of understanding that it’s not the Chet versus Vic Show. We want that to be a charity game in the summer or something, but this is the Thunder versus Spurs. “It’s preseason. We’re trying to get better within our teams, and sometimes that comes down to making a play individually, but going out there and making it about ourselves wasn’t what I was trying to do and I’m sure it wasn’t what he was trying to do on his end.”

Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said about Holmgren, “He’s fantastic. He’s got a complete game, he’s smart, he knows how to play, he’s a good one for sure.” Speaking about the two rookie big men, Popovich said, “They’re gonna be a lot of fun for everybody to watch over their careers.” Holmgren played 16 minutes, all in the first half, and hit seven of his 10 field-goal attempts, including both of his shots from 3-point range. Wembanyama played 19 minutes before sitting out the fourth quarter. He shot 8 of 13 from the field and 2 of 5 from 3-point range. Wembanyama grabbed two steals but committed a game-high four turnovers.

The Thunder led by 13 points with less than five minutes left in the game before holding on for the win. Oklahoma City’s Ousmane Dieng blocked a layup attempt by Charles Bediako with 4.1 seconds left, and San Antonio’s Devonte’ Graham missed a 3-point attempt at the buzzer. The Spurs open the regular season against the Dallas Mavericks on Oct. 25, the same day the Thunder begin on the road against the Chicago Bulls.

The first of four regular-season meetings between the Spurs and Thunder is scheduled for November 14 in Oklahoma City.



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