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Wembanyama returns to score 24 points, lead Spurs over Wizards

Victor Wembanyama San Antonio Spurs Victor Wembanyama - The Canadian Press

WASHINGTON (AP) — Victor Wembanyama returned after sitting out a game to score 24 points and grab eight rebounds, leading the San Antonio Spurs to a 131-127 victory over the Washington Wizards on Saturday night.

Tre Jones added 11 points, 12 assists and eight rebounds for the Spurs, while Jeremy Sochan scored 23 points and Devin Vassell had 21 as the Spurs came back from a 12-point deficit in the final five minutes.

“Playing as a team again,” Wembanyama said of the difference down the stretch. “I think we were slow. I was very slow. My legs were heavy tonight. And getting some stops. We relaxed and I could feel the shift from all my teammates — me included — in the fourth quarter and fortunately, it worked. Everyone was involved.”

Wembanyama sat out for the sixth time this season against Charlotte on Friday night. The No. 1 overall pick sprained an ankle on Dec. 23 at Dallas, and the Spurs have been cautious with him. The reason for his absence was listed as “rest” on the injury report. Spurs coach Gregg Popovich said it was “doctor’s orders.“

With a minutes restriction of 20-24 minutes, he’s not allowed to play back-to-backs, but the hope is he can soon. He played 28 minutes, including crucial moments down the stretch in the 12-point comeback win.

Wembanyama tied it at 121 on a 3-pointer with just over two minutes to play. It was part of a 22-6 run for the Spurs to end the game.

“He’s a great talent, obviously,” Wizards center Marvin Bagley III said. “The things he can do with the basketball, him being 7-4 or whatever he is, they just throw it up to him and he just creates.”

Bilal Coulibaly, Wembanyama’s teammate last season in France, came off the bench to score 14 points for the Wizards and Delon Wright had 16 .

“It was a fun time,” Coulibaly said of playing against Wembanyama. "Just happy for each other. We grew up together, playing together when we were like 12 and now we’re playing in the league. We just loved the moment and I just can’t wait to win that next game.”

Bagley led Washington with 21 points and 12 rebounds. It’s the second game he’s played in with Washington since he was traded from the Detroit Pistons.

“We had a good chance to win there in the fourth, up 12. We missed some shots, they went on a run, got it down, and ended up winning,” Bagley said. “It’s always tough when you compete like that and fight our way through the whole game and let it go. Let it loose at the end. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but I just have to learn from it. The good thing about the game is we have another one tomorrow. Another opportunity to come out and try and get a win.”


Spurs: Visit Philadelphia on Monday night.

Wizards: Host Denver on Sunday night.