NEW ORLEANS (AP) Victor Wembanyama scored 15 of his 17 points in the second half and had a crucial block on Herb Jones’ shot in the final seconds to lift the San Antonio Spurs to a 111-109 victory over the reeling New Orleans Pelicans on Friday night.

Wembanyama and the Spurs overcame a 10-point halftime deficit in sending the short-handed Pelicans to their fourth consecutive home loss. The Spurs had lost seven straight in the series with New Orleans.

Wembanyama also had 12 rebound and nine assists. The Spurs had 34 assists, their franchise-record 42nd game this season with at least 30.

“It’s a (facilitating) role I knew I always had in me, really, but it’s been hard, being young, obviously,” Wembanyama said. “I’m glad how we’re developing. I can’t be a complete player if I don’t make my teammates better. If it shows up in assists, that’s great.”

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said despite his young team’s early challenges with turnovers and poor shooting, his players have never quit.

“They’ve never done that,” Popovich said. “They try to play for the whole 48. We are not as consistent as we need to be, but it will come as the future approaches.”

Trailing 107-106, the Pelicans had a chance to regain the lead, but Jones dribbled into the paint and his shot was easily swiped clean by Wembanyama with 10 seconds left. All three of Wembanyama’s blocks came in the fourth quarter.

CJ McCollum led New Orleans with 31 points, but 19 came in the first half as he struggled in the second half with 5-of-17 shooting.

“They started to pick him up a little bit,” Pelicans coach Willie Greeen said. “He missed some easy shots, but we’re asking CJ to do a lot right now."

Jonas Valanciunas had 26 points and seven assists for New Orleans but was bothered by second-half foul trouble.

The Pelicans were without their two leading scorers. Zion Williamson (22.8) was sidelined with a bruised finger on his left shooting hand, an injury he suffered in a 117-108 loss to Orlando on Wednesday night, and Brandon Ingram (20.9) missed his eighth straight game because of a bone bruise on his left knee.

Devonte Graham’s 3-pointer at the close of the third quarter capped a 35-25 period for the Spurs that tied it at 86.

Graham led San Antonio with 20 points. Sandro Mamukelashvili, Julian Champagnieach Collins had 15 each, and Tre Jones and Malaki Branham had 14 apiece.

The Pelicans double-teamed Wembanyama from the outset, employing the 6-foot-7 Jones as the lead defender despite giving up 8 inches to the 7-3 San Antonio center.

Wembanyama missed all six shots from the field in the first half, and the Spurs shot just 44% from the field (19 of 43) to trail 61-51 at the break.

Graham said he was especially proud of how Wembanyama overcame his slow start with 15 second-half points, going 3 of 4 from 3-point range.

“He can get going; everybody knows that,” Graham said. “He just plays the game right, just doing what he does, making plays, being aggressive and making the right reads.”


Spurs: Host Philadelphia on Sunday night.

Pelicans: At Phoenix on Sunday.



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