Oklahoma City’s Holmgren, San Antonio’s Wembanyama shine in preseason matchup of high draft picks

The Thunder defeated the Spurs 122 to 121

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) celebrates after a basket in front of Oklahoma City Thunder guard Cason Wallace (22) in the first half of a preseason NBA basketball game, Monday, Oct. 9, 2023, in Oklahoma City. (AP Photo/Sarah Phipps) (Sarah Phipps, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

San Antonio’s Victor Wembanyama and Oklahoma City’s Chet Holmgren lived up to the hype in their first-ever NBA preseason games.

Holmgren had 21 points and nine rebounds in 16 first-half minutes, and the Thunder defeated the Spurs 122-121 on Monday night. Wembanyama had 20 points and five rebounds in 19 minutes, mostly in the first half.

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Wembanyama was the No. 1 overall pick in the 2023 draft. Holmgren was the No. 2 pick in the 2022 draft, but he suffered a foot injury in the offseason and missed all of last season.

The 7-foot-1 Holmgren won the opening tip against the 7-4 Wembanyama, but the two did not match up often. Both showed off their wide range of skills, from handling the ball and driving through traffic to making 3-pointers. Holmgren looked to score in the early minutes while Wembanyama mostly deferred to his teammates.

Holmgren scored first when he made one of two free throws. He scored on a driving layup, then got fouled shortly after that and made two free throws. He scored five points in the first three minutes.

Wembanyama became more aggressive as he got into the flow. His first basket was a two-handed dunk. He then rejected Jalen Williams, an All-Rookie selection last season.

A bit later, Wembanyama drove right at Holmgren, scored, drew a foul and made the free throw to put the Spurs up 21-15.

Holmgren had 14 points and seven rebounds in eight minutes before taking a break. Wembanyama had 10 points in seven minutes before his first rest.

The two continued their show in the second quarter. At one point, Wembanyama hit a 25-foot 3-pointer and Holmgren answered with a 27-footer 10 seconds later.

The Spurs had a 65-48 lead when Wembanyama rested and the Thunder went on a 21-12 run to climb back into the game.

Wembanyama had 18 points on 7-for-9 shooting in the first half to help San Antonio take an 81-74 lead at the break.


Immanuel Quickley scored 21 points to lead six players in double figures, guiding New York over Boston in the Knicks’ preseason opener.

Quickley made 8 of 14 shots with two 3-pointers for the Knicks, adding three assists and three steals in 23 minutes. RJ Barrett made just 1 of 5 shots from 3-points range, but he sank all nine of his free throws, scoring all 12 of his points in the first half to lead the Knicks to a 57-51 lead. Julius Randle and Evan Fournier had 11 points apiece. Jalen Brunson and Mitchell Robinson both scored 10.

Payton Pritchard made four 3-pointers and led the Celtics (1-1) with 21 points. Dalano Banton added 20 points and Svi Mykhailiuk sank three 3s and scored 15. Lamar Stevens finished with 11 points and eight rebounds, while Oshae Brissett scored 10 with five boards.

DaQuan Jeffries and Fournier hit back-to-back 3-pointers to give New York a 97-88 lead with 9:41 left to play and the Knicks’ lead wasn’t threatened from there.


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

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