Rockets Eke Out Win Over Spurs As Victor Wembanyama Has Uncharacteristically Quiet Night

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Victor Wembanyama and Dillon Brooks

The Rockets, who are without their Turkish big man Alperen Sengun, won a close game over the Spurs on Tuesday night by a score of 103-101 while brilliantly limiting the impact of Victor Wembanyama, who posted 13 points and 10 rebounds while going 5-for-12 from the floor. 

No Alperen Sengun? No problem. Already victorious over the San Antonio Spurs seven days earlier at Toyota Center, the Houston Rockets picked up where they left off in enemy territory on Tuesday night despite the absence of center Alperen Sengun, who has an ankle injury that will keep him out of action for at least three weeks. The evening began with a big smile from Victor Wembanyama, who was warmly applauded by the Frost Bank Center as he was presented with his trophy he won after being named the NBA Rookie of the Month in February in the Western Conference (his second after the one he won in January).

But the good mood soon gave way to frustration, embodied by Canadian guard Dillon Brooks, a veritable defensive poison on the French player (as was the case in the last game where he limited him to 10 points.) A tightly guarded Wemby only attempted four shots in the first half (posting 2 points, 6 rebounds, and 4 assists), mostly looking for open teammates. Back on Monday night against Golden State after an ankle injury, the former Mets 92 player didn’t seem 100% healthy either, asking his coach for a change in the second quarter.

Ahead 47-44 at halftime, the Spurs were caught off guard in the second half as Devin Vassell, the team’s second-highest scorer, also failed to find his rhythm (6 points on 2-of-6 shooting). Wembanyama had to wait until the last minute of the third quarter to score his second basket of the game before finally coming into his own in the final 12 minutes. First, he went up for a one-handed dunk, then brought the two teams back on level terms with a three-point pull-up (79-79).

The inevitable Dillon Brooks (14 points) responded by giving Houston a four-point lead on a jump shot but was eventually sent to the bench with 18 seconds remaining after his sixth foul. The game’s outcome came down to the free-throw line, where Jalen Green (16 points, 7 rebounds, 5 assists) and Aaron Holiday knocked down their final attempts to give the Rockets a hard-fought 103-101 victory.

“Games like this, I guess, are a bit reminiscent of the intensity of the playoffs. I thank the opponents for playing this way, it makes me progress,” Victor Wembanyama reacted in the press conference. The Frenchman finished with 13 points, 10 rebounds and 6 assists on 41.7% shooting (5 out of 12). Point guard Tre Jones was the game’s top scorer with 24 points. The Spurs take to the floor again on Friday night, again at home, against Denver and Nikola Jokic.

This post is originally from L’Équipe