Number one overall draft pick, Victor Wembanyama starred in the San Antonio Spurs’ incredible 115-114 comeback victory over the Phoenix Suns, recovering to win with just one second left on the clock.
Wembanyama scored 18 points in the match and played a key role in starting the Spurs’ second-half comeback, reducing the Suns’ lead to one point with a put-back dunk.
Keldon Johnson completed the victory with the winning basket at the death, putting Gregg Popovich’s side in front for the first time in the entire match.
The 35-year-old, who scored 26 points at Footprint Center, reached the landmark in his 990th game. Only Wilt Chamberlain, Michael Jordan and Kareem Abdul-Jabbar have done so in fewer matches.
Johnson scored 27 points, while French rookie Wembanyama, playing only his fourth NBA game, and Devin Vassell each added 18 as the Spurs recovered from Sunday’s 40-point loss at the Los Angeles Clippers to claim their first away win this season.
The Spurs are eighth in the Western Conference, and the Suns are 10th. They meet again at the same venue on Thursday.
Julius Randle scored 19 points and made 10 rebounds as the New York Knicks won 109-91 at the Cleveland Cavaliers, for whom Donovan Mitchell scored 26 points.
Paul George recorded 27 points, seven rebounds and seven assists as the Clippers beat the visiting Orlando Magic 118-102.
George missed all six of his first-quarter shots, but made four three-pointers in scoring 14 points in the third quarter.
Meanwhile, Wembanyama spoke about facing his idol Kevin Durant on the night and working with coach Popovich.
“He’s [Durant] just like in the highlights and everything I expected, but I thought that every night [in the NBA] is going to be special in one way or another,” he told TNT Sports.
“Sometimes I want to think ‘this is the guy I’ve watched for 10 years, and is my idol,’ but I’ve got to lock in and think he’s going to try to step in one me, so I’ve got to lock in and don’t care that he’s my idol.
“I like to be with a coach that’s honest, that’s going to be into me and be relentless with me and Popovich is like that.
“From the first day of practice, he showed that we’re going to be patient but not lose any time.”
Wembanyama also believes that Spurs is the right side for his development, and trusts that Popovich is the best man to take them on a quest towards an NBA championship.
“I’m new here; I don’t know what it takes to win a championship, but I’m here to find out and make the sacrifices,” he added.
“The good thing is I have total trust in my organisation and coach, so it’s going to take the time that it needs to take.”
Suns star Durant was also quizzed on the 19-year-old’s progress after the game, and is predicting a bright future for the young Frenchman.
“He’s a unique player that’s going to be a force in this league for a long time. Once he gets more experience under his belt, he’s just going to get better.”