Los Angeles Lakers star LeBron James throws down a dunk in the Lakers victory over the Portland Trail Blazers in an NBA in-season tournament game
Los Angeles (AFP) - Victor Wembanyama put on a show but his San Antonio Spurs slumped to a seventh straight defeat on Friday as group play continued in the NBA’s new in-season tournament.
De’Aaron Fox matched his career high with 43 points, adding eight rebounds and seven assists for the Sacramento Kings, who beat the Spurs 129-120.
After scoring just eight points in a 36-point loss to Oklahoma City on Tuesday, Wembanyama scored 27 points and pulled down nine rebounds.
The 19-year-old French phenomenon, who was taken number one in the NBA draft, impressed with an array of shots – including a gravity-defying alley-oop dunk.
Zach Collins scored 28 for the Spurs, who roared to an 18-point lead in the first quarter but couldn’t keep pace in a fourth quarter that saw Fox deliver 14 points as Wembanyama was held to six.
“All of us, we know we’re on a good path,” Wembanyama said as he reflected on yet another defeat.
“Of course it’s hard to be patient sometimes, but it’s an everyday fight. I know that the end of the season will not look like the beginning of the season.”
San Antonio's star rookie Victor Wembanyama throws down a dunk in the Spurs' loss to the Sacramento Kings in the NBA in-season tournament
Now 3-9 for the season, the Spurs fell to 0-3 in group play in the league’s new cup-style tournament – out of the running for the knockout rounds.
The Los Angeles Lakers, meanwhile, were closing in on a quarter-final berth after a 107-95 victory over the Trail Blazers in Portland.
LeBron James, who turns 39 next month, matched his season-high with 35 points and the Lakers led by as many as 17 in the final quarter.
Anthony Davis added 16 points and 14 rebounds as the Lakers improved to 3-0 in the tournament.
They can clinch their group with a win on Tuesday over Utah, who fell 131-128 to the Phoenix Suns.
Kevin Durant scored 38 points – including a dagger three-pointer with 18.8 seconds left – to propel the Suns to victory in Salt Lake City.
James Harden was the hero for the Los Angeles Clippers, who snapped a six-game losing streak with a 106-100 victory over the Houston Rockets – their first win in the five games since Harden arrived in a trade from Philadelphia.
With six seconds remaining and the score tied at 100-100, Harden dribbled against Jae’Sean Tate, making his trademark step back to drain a three-pointer, drawing a foul and converting the free throw.
“It’s a sigh of relief,” admitted Harden.
“It’s been some tough times these last few games. But we’ve got a bigger picture, got to be the last team standing so it’s going to be a process.”
Elsewhere, Zion Williamson scored 26 points and the New Orleans Pelicans withstood a Nikola Jokic triple-double of 26 points, 16 rebounds and 18 assists in a 115-110 victory over the NBA champion Denver Nuggets.
New Orleans never trailed, leading by as many as 20 in the third quarter and holding off a Denver charge that saw the Nuggets pull within one in the final period.
In Toronto, Boston guard Derrick White drained a go-ahead three-pointer with 27.5 seconds left as the Celtics held off the hard-charging Raptors 108-105.
Jaylen Brown scored 23 points, Jayson Tatum added 17 and Kristaps Porzingis chipped in 14 points and 12 rebounds for the Celtics, who are 2-0 in tournament play and maintained their one-game lead atop the Eastern Conference over Philadelphia – who beat the Atlanta Hawks 126-116.
- Bridges returns -
In Charlotte, Milwaukee’s Damian Lillard scored 27 points to lead seven Bucks players in double figures in a 130-99 victory over the Hornets.
Malik Beasley added 20 points and Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo returned from a one-game injury absence to score 16 points with eight rebounds and nine assists in Milwaukee’s third straight victory.
The Bucks connected on 22 of 45 three-pointers to withstand a 37-point night from Charlotte’s LaMelo Ball.
Miles Bridges came off the bench for Charlotte and scored 17 points in his first NBA game since April 2022.
Bridges missed all of last season and was suspended 10 games to start this season after pleading no contest in a felony domestic violence incident last year.