Victor Wembanyama has 31 points, 12 rebounds as Spurs top Pacers 117-105

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SAN ANTONIO — Victor Wembanyama had 31 points and 12 rebounds to lead the San Antonio Spurs past the Indiana Pacers on 117-105 on Sunday night — and posted a stat line that compared favorably with the two best big men in his team’s history.

The 7-foot-4 Wembanyama finished with six assists and six blocked shots, becoming the third rookie in NBA history to record 30 points, 10 rebounds, five assists and five blocks. The others were Hall of Famers David Robinson (twice) and Tim Duncan, both of whom spent their entire careers with San Antonio.

Wembanyama showed some skill as a closer, too, with six points, three rebounds and a block in his final four minutes.

“Every team needs some people they need to rely on,” Wembanyama said. “Sometimes it’s the coach or the players, but of course for me, there’s no way to lose my composure or even send a negative image to my teammates. Even when I miss and don’t shake my head, (so I) don’t send any bad messages to my teammates. Keep that to myself.”

After falling 152-111 at Indiana on Nov. 26, the 20-year-old Wembanyama and San Antonio dominated much of the rematch.

“This is a team that is obviously a much different team than when we played them early,” Pacers coach Rick Carlisle said. “They just beat Oklahoma (City on Thursday). They play extremely hard. It’s a wild building. To overcome that stuff, we’ve just got to raise our level, our edge, our compete level, everything. It’s quite a test.”

Wembanyama went 3 for 4 on 3-pointers. The top overall draft pick has posted five or more blocks in five of his past six games.

T.J. McConnell had 26 points, Pascal Siakam added 21 and Myles Turner had 16 points and 10 rebounds for the Pacers, who have lost three of four.

Malaki Branham had 18 points for the Spurs while starting in place of Julian Champagnie, who has a sprained right ankle. Devin Vassell and Keldon Johnson each had 17 points.

San Antonio won its second straight after losing five in a row as part of a 1-8 trip last month when its home arena was being used for an annual rodeo.

The Spurs are last in the Western Conference and have not won three games in a row this season. Each of their three previous two-game win streaks was followed by a skid of four games or more.

Indiana entered the game leading the league in scoring at 123.6 points per game but labored through the first three quarters.

Trailing by 13 points, the Pacers went on a 13-1 run to pull within 98-97 midway through the fourth. The Spurs responded with a 10-0 run fueled by six points from Wembanyama.

“I felt we kept our composure,” San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said. “We ran only a couple of plays down the stretch over and over again, for obvious reasons. We got some good cuts. We got some free throws. They did a good job.”

Indiana erased a 12-point deficit two minutes into the second half, taking its first lead at 55-54 on Turner’s 3-pointer.

As he did all game, Wembanyama led the Spurs’ response. He assisted on Branham’s 3-pointer and followed with a 3 of his own to put San Antonio back up 68-63 midway through the third.

“He’s gotten a lot better,” Haliburton said. “His confidence is growing. He’s playing really well.”

Indiana was held to a season-low 16 points in the opening quarter while shooting 1 for 13 on 3s. Its previous low was 17 points against Boston on Jan. 6.

McConnell had 12 points in the first quarter.

“He was spectacular in this game,” Carlisle said. “In the first quarter we were really struggling, and he got us back into the game. I mean, it was a bleak beginning, and he was tremendous.”

UP NEXT

Pacers: At Dallas on Tuesday night.

Spurs: At Houston on Tuesday night.

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AP NBA: https://apnews.com/hub/nba

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