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Thunder Comeback To Take Down Spurs In Preseason Opener



Thunder Comeback To Take Down Spurs In Preseason Opener

A battle between San Antonio Spurs rookie Victor Wembanyama and Oklahoma City Thunder rookie Chet Holmgren proved to be as entertaining as advertised, but a third-quarter run by the Thunder ultimately propelled it to a preseason victory.

While nearly all of the fans at Paycom Center Monday evening were decked out in Oklahoma City Thunder Blue, a majority of fans tuning in online were watching for one 7-foot-tall reason.

The Thunder and San Antonio Spurs tipped off their NBA preseason campaigns against each other, which not only raised excitement from each team’s fanbase, but also for the league’s newest rivalry: Chet Holmgren vs. Victor Wembanyama.

Prior to the game, Wembanyama gave the Thunder rookie his flowers, calling him “one of the greats of this generation,” and it showed.

Holmgren finished the game with 21 points and nine rebounds — outdoing Wembanyama by one point — and shot 7-of-10 in the process for a hugely efficient outing.

Between him and Luguentz Dort — who finished with 14 points of his own — the Thunder got the job done at home, defeating San Antonio 122-121.

It wasn’t the strongest of showings for the Thunder overall from the field, as the team shot 43% on the game, but finding momentum in a hole was Oklahoma City’s saving grace, as it battled down from a 19-point deficit to take the lead late in the third.

But that wasn’t the end of the drama.

San Antonio struck first with a 7-0 run to start things off, utilizing Tre Jones, Zach Collins and Devin Vassell to gather some momentum.

The Thunder fought back after Holmgren scored 14 quick points — most of which came under the rim — to tie the game up with four minutes to play in the first quarter.

The Spurs, behind Wembanyama and Jones, pulled away in the late minutes of the first, taking a 13-point lead into the second quarter.

While still trailing by double digits, however, Thunder veteran Isaiah Joe would have found his groove … had it not been for fouls.

Joe finished the game with 14 points — most of which came in the second quarter — and went to the line 10 times on 90% shooting to help keep Oklahoma City within striking distance, which Thunder forward Jalen Williams found motivation from.

Thunder Comeback To Take Down Spurs In Preseason Opener

A pair of dunks from him mixed with a slew of points from Lugeuntz Dort brought the Thunder within six, but despite the Thunder’s efforts, it remained down by seven at halftime, 81-74.

But from that point on, the Thunder would take full control of the game until late in the fourth.

Thunder first-year veteran Davis Bertans took the torch for Oklahoma City to open the second half, hitting four 3-pointers in the first half of the third quarter alone to give the Thunder its first lead.

A back-and-forth battle ensued, as the Thunder’s narrow lead spanned over six minutes of third quarter action. The Spurs remained within three points until two more Joe free throws extended that lead to five with under two minutes to play in the third. And the fourth quarter told the same story.

San Antonio continued to struggle on offense, which allowed the Thunder’s bench to empty without issue. No Wembanyama or Holmgren in the mix meant more time for younger, less experienced players, and both sides continued to play for a preseason opener win.

A late run by the Spurs brought them within one point with under 30 seconds to play, but a missed 3-pointer by Devonte’ Graham secured the 122-121 victory for Oklahoma City.

With the win, the Thunder improve to 1-0 on its preseason campaign, giving them the chance to build on their opening momentum. And that they will certainly look to do.

Next up for Holmgren and company is a neutral-site test against the Detroit Pistons on Thursday, Oct. 12. Tipoff from Montreal, Québec, Canada is TBD.

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