Victor Wembanyama scores team-high 27 points in second NBA Summer League game

LAS VEGAS — Victor Wembanyama was better, much better, in his second crack at an NBA Summer League game, scoring 27 points with 12 rebounds in 27 minutes for the San Antonio Spurs on Sunday.

Double-doubles are good, even in Las Vegas, when the pressure is off and the competition doesn’t look like what he’ll see when the real NBA season starts in October.

“It’s summer league and he’s got a big future coming up, the season is coming, all those things, but I don’t think there’s any doubt there’s a lot of attention and I’d be lying if I said he probably didn’t feel any of that,” Spurs summer coach Matt Nielsen said. “I think he showed the talent that he is and the resilience and he just stepped up and wanted to get better in the areas that we talked about.”

Wembanyama, 19, the No. 1 pick in the 2023 draft and an international sensation, added three blocks and shot 9-of-14 from the field in the Spurs’ 85-80 loss to the summer version of the Portland Trail Blazers. His 3-pointer with 1:58 left brought the Spurs within one point and brought thunderous applause from a crowd so clearly hungry to see him play like this.

It was a marked improvement for the 7-foot-4 Frenchman, who built a little house in his long-awaited summer debut Friday in missing 13 of 15 shots.

“It’s just me getting comfortable with myself, comfortable with my body, the court,” Wembanyama said. “Before today, I had two practices and a game, so I was just getting going.”

Wembanyama fared better against the Blazers, having shaken off some of the rust from the banquet pitch he had hit after his European pro season ended. He showed more touch near the basket, drew enough fouls to shoot 12 free throws (and made seven) and even knocked down a few jumpers. He remained a deterrent in the lane for would-be drivers and slashers — which was the main positive Spurs fans took from the five blocks he posted Friday.

Wembanyama also continued to struggle to retain possession when stronger players sought to take the ball away from him, and he remained a moving object at the point of contact – two issues that should disappear over time as he grew into his tall frame.

Wembanyama showed glimpses of his potential on offense in his nine-point second-quarter outburst Sunday (he scored nine for the game in his debut Friday), behind a nifty fluid jump shot and two dunks that sent a palpable buzz through the crowd. He had the fans on full tilt in the fourth with a 10-point explosion that included two 3-pointers, a hook and sharp spin and shot off the glass.

He also aired a wide-open 3 from the top of the key, a reminder that while the YouTube videos of a giant splashing 3 were cool, he shot just .275 from 3-point range in the French pro league in last season.

Sunday’s game was supposed to be a matchup between the two rookies who entered the draft with the most hype — Wembanyama and No. 3 pick Scoot Henderson of the Blazers — but Henderson injured his shoulder in his debut Friday and was held out.

Spurs’ next summer league game is at 10:30 PM ET on Tuesday against the Washington Wizards, and Nielsen acknowledged that Wembanyama’s summer will be cut short before the schedule is complete.

“I’m sure it will show up very quickly, but right now I’m just trying to get through that game, so I’m not sure about the next step, but just enjoy it,” Nielsen said. .

Wembanyama added: “I have to talk to Pop (Spurs coach Gregg Popovich) and I will listen to what he says. I am ready to make any sacrifice for the team and give 100 percent.”

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(Photo: Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

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