Rookie sensation Victor Wembanyama dominates Spurs’ 122-99 rout of Raptors

Victor Wembanyama had a triple-double to propel the San Antonio Spurs to a 122-99 rout of the Toronto Raptors on Monday to snap a seven-game losing streak.

The No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 NBA Draft finished with 27 points, 14 rebounds and a career-high 10 blocks for San Antonio (11-43). He also had five assists.

Devin Vassell scored 25 points for the Spurs, including five three-pointers and six assists.

Rookie Gradey Dick, selected 12 spots behind Wembanyama in last summer’s draft, led Toronto (19-35) with 18 points and two rebounds.

Center Kelly Olynyk also came off the bench for 17 points and compatriot RJ Barrett had 13 points and five rebounds as Toronto struggled with its shooting on a night when the Spurs were lethal from distance.

The Raptors finished 39.8 percent from the field, including 25.8 from the three-point line. San Antonio shot 52.9 percent on its field goal attempts, including 36.7 percent on its 3-point attempts.

Wembanyama received a loud ovation from the 19,800 fans at Scotiabank Arena when he was introduced during warm-ups. The Frenchman was selected first in last year’s draft by the Spurs. He has lived up to those expectations in his rookie season, averaging 20.3 points, 10 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game.

Wembanyama, 20, made an immediate impact Monday, blocking Jakob Poeltl’s layup attempt on the game’s first shot, then hitting a 3-pointer on San Antonio’s first possession, before grabbing a rebound on the next defensive sequence .

It led San Antonio to a quick 10-0 lead, before Toronto responded with a run of its own to tie the score. Although the Spurs responded with another eight straight points, they only held a 34-28 lead after one quarter.

An 11-2 run by San Antonio, including five points and two assists from Wembanyama, put the visitors to a 15-point lead. The Spurs led by as many as 19 points in the second quarter, entering halftime with a 67-50 lead.

San Antonio shot 62.8 percent from the field in the half, including 53.8 percent (7 of 13) from beyond the arc. Toronto was only able to muster 45.8 percent shooting from the field and 25 percent (3 of 12) on 3-pointers in the first two quarters.

The Raptors opened the third with an 8-3 run to close that gap, but San Antonio responded with 11 straight points to extend their lead to 22.

Wembanyama grabbed a dunk with 1:17 left in the third quarter to give the Spurs a 100-70 lead and increase their point total to 30.

With 6:44 left in the fourth quarter and San Antonio leading by 27, Raptors head coach Darko Rajakovic began cleaning out his bench, putting rarely used players like Jordan Nwora and Jontay Porter on the court.

POPP’S LEARNING TREE – Rajakovic spent seven years with the Spurs organization, serving as a scouting consultant and assistant coach for the NBA Summer League from 2004 to 2011. Spurs president and coach Gregg Popovich said Rajakovic impressed him when was in San Antonio.

“He’s a no-nonsense guy. He’s a detail-oriented guy. He digs down to the basics. He doesn’t miss anything. He doesn’t skip any steps,” Popovich said before the game. “He has a lot of confidence in what it takes to win and what it takes to build a team and create a culture.”

UNTIL NEXT TIME – Former Raptors star Pascal Siakam and the Indiana Pacers visit Toronto on Wednesday, his first game against his former team since he was traded on Jan. 17.

The Spurs continue their road trip with a game in Dallas on Wednesday.

This report by The Canadian Press was first published Feb. 12, 2024.

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