French prodigy Victor Wembanyama, decisive two days earlier, collapsed with his San Antonio Spurs team on Sunday for his first trip to the NBA, to the Los Angeles Clippers (123-83).
The first times in Los Angeles are often the occasion for a little disappointment, faced with the ugly signs of the temples of overconsumption which surround the mythical stars of Hollywood Boulevard, in the middle of the exhaust fumes. For his debut in the City of Angels, Victor Wembanyama did not escape the rule, and had a good return to earth.
Far from his base in San Antonio and the furious end of Friday's match, for his first victory against Houston, the Frenchman and his team of young Texan cowboys were crushed by the experienced Clippers, the first candidates for the title that they meet this season on the courts.
Clumsy shooting (4 out of 10 in the game, 3 out of 6 on free throws), guilty of 5 ball losses, “Wemby” had to be content with 11 points (5 rebounds, 2 assists, 1 block) in 26 minutes after two matches at 15 and 21 units.
“We need to concentrate more on certain points, youth is not an excuse, we will have to watch the match again to try to understand,” explained Wembanyama.
“It’s a story of perseverance. It's just a defeat, it's only the start of the season, we're learning. In the locker room, no one had their heads down. We’re going to get back to our work.”
Is this the first NBA game where the Frenchman was in trouble? “No, the third,” he replied firmly.
Overwhelmed in the first quarter (23-17), the Spurs saw the gap widen, due to clumsiness (25 ball losses), and now have 2 defeats and 1 victory.
“In terms of the level of play, the turnovers, it was a bad evening for the whole team,” lamented his coach Gregg Popovich.
On the Clippers side, former Spur Kawhi Leonard, champion with the Texans in 2014, set the tone with 21 points, well surrounded by his prestigious teammates Paul George (19 points) and Russell Westbrook (19 points).
Not a starter, the experienced Nicolas Batum played 14 minutes and successfully defended during a few sequences against his compatriot Victor Wembanyama, who should be his teammate in the French team at the Paris Olympic Games in 2024.
Earlier in the evening, defending champion Denver scored a third success in as many games this season against Oklahoma City (128-95), still in the wake of its Serbian pivot Nikola Jokic (28 points, 14 rebounds).
The Milwaukee Bucks of the Damian Lillard/Giannis Antetokounmpo duo took on water at home against Atlanta (127-110), while last season's MVP Joel Embiid carried the Philadelphia 76ers (35 points, 15 rebounds, 7 assists , 6 blocks) against Portland (126-98).
“It’s my job, I try to be better every day. It starts from defense, having the mentality of not letting anything pass, then in attack to make the right choices,” said the Cameroonian.
A breathtaking end to the match saw Sacramento and De'Aaron Fox (37 points) get the better of Lebron James' Los Angeles Lakers (27 points, 15 rebounds), 132 to 127 after overtime.