Victor Wembanyama, Devonte Graham’s heroics in Spurs’ win vs. Nuggets spark proud Gregg Popovich reaction

Gregg Popovich couldn’t be any prouder of Victor Wembanyama and Devonte’ Graham for starring in the Spurs’ comeback win vs. the Nuggets.

The San Antonio Spurs, for the second consecutive season, could finish with the worst record in the Western Conference. But even though they reached the 60-loss mark for just the fourth time in franchise history, the Spurs’ players remain highly motivated. This was in full display when Victor Wembanyama and company decided not to give up despite going down by as many as 23 points against the Denver Nuggets, taking home a 121-120 win in the end.

At the 10:56 mark of the third quarter, the Nuggets went up by 23. It would have been the easier path for the Spurs if they decided to just hang their heads and accept that a loss was coming. After all, not too many people expect them to get a win, let alone against the reigning champions. But for them to rally from that point forward speaks volumes to how laser-focused this young team is on winning, making head coach Gregg Popovich feel like a proud father.

“A lot of teams that have been in this position, they just die out. These guys, you can tell, they enjoy each other, they love each other. They know they’re getting better individually and as a group,” Popovich said following the Spurs’ best win of the season, per Paul Garcia of The Spot Up Shot.

Just to put in perspective how improbable this win was for the Spurs, they did not have the services of Devin Vassell, Keldon Johnson, and Jeremy Sochan, three of their best players. But as of late, San Antonio has been playing well. They have won six of their past 10 games, including huge wins against the Phoenix Suns, New York Knicks, and New Orleans Pelicans, clearly trending towards a much better future.

Welcome to the Victor Wembanyama show

As mentioned earlier, the Spurs went down by 23 early in the third quarter against the Nuggets. But the Spurs were able to cut the Nuggets’ lead to as little as six points during the same period. What happened, one might ask. The answer to that is, Victor Wembanyama happened.

Wembanyama has been improving at such a rapid rate. In fact, the Spurs rookie is so good on the defensive end, racking up blocks and steals like taking candy from a baby, that he’s warranting DPOY consideration even though San Antonio’s defense ranks 22nd. But his offensive game appears to be catching up to his defense, and there may not be a scarier thought in the league than a fully-realized Wembanyama.

From the 8:05 to 5:22 mark of the third quarter, Victor Wembanyama exploded for 17 points. During that span, he made four threes, including three straight which he punctuated with an amazing pull-up deep bomb from near the logo.

Victor Wembanyama finished the game with 34 points on 12-27 shooting from the field, while adding his customary multiple-block game. (He had two.) The Spurs are taking after Wembanyama’s competitive spirit, and you could just see how much the win meant to him following the final buzzer.

Devonte’ Graham, from the depths of the Spurs bench, emerges as the hero

Devonte’ Graham, entering tonight’s matchup against the Nuggets, had played in just 21 games this season, averaging 12.5 minutes per game. The Spurs have opted to give the bulk of backcourt minutes to Jeremy Sochan, Tre Jones, Malaki Branham, and Blake Wesley, but with how depleted they are, Gregg Popovich opted to give Graham plenty of burn.

And Graham, as the Spurs would have it, delivered; he may have scored just 11 points in 32 minutes, but he scored the most important bucket of the game when he gave San Antonio the lead with 0.9 left on the clock.

Gregg Popovich could not have been any prouder of Devonte’ Graham for staying the course and leading the Spurs to an unlikely comeback victory.

“He was always already. He was always there for his team,” Popovich added.

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