Bulls overcome Wembanyama’s big night to to hand Spurs 16th straight loss, 121-112

San Antonio Spurs center Victor Wembanyama (1) grabs a rebound over Chicago Bulls center Nikola Vucevic (9) during the first half of an NBA basketball game in San Antonio, Friday, Dec. 8, 2023. (AP Photo/Eric Gay) (Eric Gay, Copyright 2023 The Associated Press. All rights reserved)

SAN ANTONIO – Having played for San Antonio under Gregg Popovich, Chicago Bulls All-Star DeMar DeRozan knows the Spurs should eventually be OK.

But for now, the Spurs are suffering another historic skid even as No. 1 pick Victor Wembanyama continues to shine.

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Colby White had 24 points and the Chicago Bulls overcame Wembanyama’s big night to hand the Spurs their franchise record-tying 16th straight loss, 121-112 on Friday.

Wembanyama had 21 points and 20 rebounds as the Spurs matched the franchise record they set last season. At 19, Wembanyama is the youngest player in league history with 20 points and 20 rebounds in a game.

“They’ve got everything else,” DeRozan said. “Experience really becomes a critical thing late in the game and in certain key moments throughout the game. That goes a long way for a young team like that. They’re going to have it. They’re going to get it. The experience that they’re gaining. I know it sucks for them right now losing, but with that you gain experience and understanding of what it takes to be winners and what it takes to close out games.”

Nikola Vucevic added 21 points and 16 rebounds for Chicago. DeRozan had 20 points and 10 rebounds, Patrick Williams also had 20 points and Torey Craig finished with 16 points to help the Bulls win their fourth straight and snap a seven-game road skid.

Keldon Johnson had 20 points for the Spurs. Tre Jones added a season-high 18 for San Antonio, which has not won since Nov. 2 in Phoenix.

“Well, we’ve been here before,” Popovich said. “They competed their butts off. A lot of good things, but fourth quarter people up their defense and we have trouble scoring. So, we just didn’t keep up the scoring in that regard.”

Wembanyama had 10 points and 11 rebounds in the first half for his 10th double-double of the season and first in a first half. He made a spin move away from Andre Drummond to the rim for a two-handed dunk off an inbounds pass from Jones.

“It’s a little bit unfair how he rebounds (with) us around him,” Vucevic said. “There was some rebounds, I was just ... there was nothing I could do. Granted, I’m not a high jumper or anything, but still.”

Wembanyama had two blocks in each half, including an early one on DeRozan.

“Man, hey listen, I didn’t know where he was coming from, even if wasn’t by me,” DeRozan said. “He’s going to be a scary defender just affecting people’s shots down there, even if he doesn’t get a hand on them. Just the way he affects everybody coming down there, coming out of nowhere. The first layup, I didn’t know where he came from, and he blocked it. You definitely have to be aware.”

Wembanyama was 8 for 20 from the field, but 0 for 4 on 3-pointers.

The Spurs altered their starting lineup for the second consecutive game, with Malaki Branham joining Wembanyama, Johnson, Jeremy Sochan and Devin Vassell. They had shared the floor together only six possessions this season prior to Friday.

White’s 3-pointer gave the Bulls a 69-68 lead with 6:41 remaining in the third quarter. Chicago outscored San Antonio 35-20 in the third in taking an 87-83 lead.

“It’s been a combination of things,” Jones said. “Turnovers, I think is something that’s consistent tonight. (Offensive) boards throughout the entire game, but obviously in the third quarter as well. We stopped hitting shots as well and they just picked up their physicality and ended up getting to the free throw line as well.”


Bulls: At Milwaukee on Monday night.

Spurs: At Houston on Monday night.


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

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