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Victor Wembanyama makes more history in San Antonio Spurs win over Oklahoma City Thunder

<i>Brien Aho/Getty Images via CNN Newsource</i><br/>Gilgeous-Alexander's 31 points were not enough to get the Thunder over the line.
Brien Aho/Getty Images via CNN Newsource
Gilgeous-Alexander's 31 points were not enough to get the Thunder over the line.

By Sam Joseph, CNN

(CNN) — 2023 No. 1 overall pick Victor Wembanyama seems to do something unprecedented on a weekly basis.

The San Antonio Spurs rookie stuffed the stat sheet in a statement 132-118 victory over the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday.

Wembanyama posted 28 points, 13 rebounds, seven assists, five blocks and two steals while also making 5-of-7 three-pointers, outdueling fellow Rookie of the Year candidate Chet Holmgren along the way.

The Frenchman became the first player in NBA history to record 25+ points, 10+ rebounds, 5+ assists, 5+ blocks, and 5+ threes in a game, per the NBA.

The phenom also capped off a dominant February by becoming the first NBA player ever to average two steals, two triples and three blocks in a month.

It was a welcome victory for the rebuilding Spurs – who came back home following their yearly Rodeo Road Trip and are last in the West at 12-48 on the season – making the night all the sweeter for Wembanyama, who has made clear that he only wants his historic achievements to come in wins.

“It’s a lot of mental,” Wembanyama explained after the game. “You know Kobe (Bryant) said to win a game, it mostly takes shots, big shots, because they don’t call like any fouls. It’s not as much the physical battle. Even though in defense, it’s 90 percent effort, but offensively, it’s a lot of mental.”

It was a big upset win for ‘Wemby’ and San Antonio, knocking off a team at the opposite end of the standings. The Thunder came into Thursday’s game at 41-17, second in the West and only half a game behind the first-seeded Minnesota Timberwolves.

The underdog Spurs were forced to protect their lead late on as the Thunder mounted a comeback in the fourth quarter. Wembanyama took over late in the final period, knocking down a couple of clutch triples to pad his team’s advantage.

Thursday’s game also featured what is being tipped as one of the NBA’s biggest player rivalries for the next decade. Wembanyama was matched up against OKC center Holmgren, who was drafted second overall in 2022 but is classed as a rookie after missing the entirety of last season with an injury.

Both players represent a new breed of NBA big man: centers who combine a typical paint presence with guard skills on the perimeter. They are sometimes referred to as ‘unicorns’ by fans as a result of their rarity.

Holmgren had an impressive performance of his own, putting up 23 points, seven rebounds and five assists. However, Wembenyama had the last laugh, blocking a Holmgren jump shot on a crucial possession inside the final two minutes to ice the game.

Holmgren lamented his side’s surprise loss postgame.

“It’s just another reminder that this is the NBA,” he said. “No team is in the NBA for no reason. No player is in the NBA for no reason. Any team can beat another on any given night regardless of record or anything. They came out confident. Part of that was them, part of that was us. We should be better the next one.”

The Thunder’s MVP candidate Shai Gilgeous-Alexander led the game with 31 points, while Devin Vassell matched Wembanyama’s 28-point total for the Spurs.

Both teams next take to the court on Sunday – San Antonio hosts the Indiana Pacers, with OKC, now 41-18, visiting the Phoenix Suns.

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